Riedl: "I'm expecting positive football"
Indonesia coach Riedl takes swipe at Sundram's defensive tactics
SINGAPORE v INDONESIA
(Today, 7.30pm, Singtel TV Ch 114 & StarHub TV Ch 208)
Perhaps it was the notorious traffic here in Manila that turned a 15-minute ride into an hour-long journey.
Even before a ball has been kicked ahead of their do-or-die clash at the Rizal Memorial Stadium tonight, Singapore coach V Sundramoorthy and his Indonesian counterpart Alfred Riedl looked the worse for wear when they walked into the press conference at the Marco Polo Hotel yesterday morning.
When Sundram greeted the Austrian and asked how he was doing, Riedl deadpanned: "I'm okay... I'm still alive."
The 67-year-old admitted he might as well be a dead man walking.
Indonesia are bottom of Group A on goal difference, and their only hope of qualifying for the Suzuki Cup semi-finals is to beat Singapore and pray that Thailand beat Philippines in the other match played concurrently at a different stadium.
Singapore, meanwhile, could possibly progress with a draw, but a win would boost their chances.
While he acknowledged his side's precarious position, Riedl subtly tried to put pressure on Sundram by taking a swipe at the Singapore coach's well-known defensive approach.
"This might be the last press conference for me, but let's not worry about that," said the former Austria striker.
"Tomorrow's match is a sensitive one for both teams, and we both cannot play for a draw.
"That might make it an interesting match because the situation is both teams have to win.
"I'm expecting positive football. I hope so, because I don't like matches where one team are (playing) behind, defending all the time."
Elaborating on the Lions, Riedl added: "When you look at the scoresheet, they did not score one goal and conceded only one, and it was in the dying minutes.
"We know how they play. Against the Philippines, we could see Singapore tried to play open football with 11 players, but then they got the red card (Hafiz Abu Sujad in the 34th minute).
"In the second game, we all know Thailand are powerhouses, and Singapore's (soak and strike) tactic almost worked.
"We are expecting them to play the same way they tried to against the Philippines. But we are prepared for anything."
Sundram did not appear in any mood to be goaded by Riedl's comments.
When asked if he would change his approach, the 51-year-old simply said: "I will analyse Indonesia, look at their weaknesses and try come up with a game plan to exploit them and minimise their strengths."
When asked whether an outburst on social media by defender Baihakki Khaizan against a member of the coaching staff affected the team's preparations, Sundram replied: "I'm just focusing on the game.
"Team spirit cannot be better. The boys are in a good mood and ready for the battle."
The efforts of both Indonesia and Singapore at the Rizal Memorial Stadium might count for nothing if the Philippines beat Thailand, who have already qualified for the semi finals at the Philippine Sports Stadium some 40km away.
Philippines coach Thomas Dooley said qualification for the semi-finals "is in our hands", and added that the chance of creating history - the Azkals have not beaten the Thais since 1972 - would drive his players on.
"That's motivation enough for the players," said the American.
Thai coach Kiatisuk Senamuang admitted that he would rest a number of his stars as today's match would be their fourth in 11 days, but he expects a win nonetheless.
"I will make some changes, but all our 20 (outfield) players are strong and have the same quality," said the 43-year-old.
"So, like in the last two games, it is important for us to go for the three points, especially since Suzuki Cup games now contribute to Fifa rankings."