Tour results not important: Sundram
Lions bounce back and coach focuses on testing players in different formations
JAPAN SOCCER COLLEGE 0
(Fazrul Nawaz 5, Hafiz Nor 29)
They were criticised by some quarters on Wednesday, after their 3-2 defeat by a university team in the first match on their Japan training tour.
Yesterday, the Lions bounced back with a 2-0 victory over Japan Soccer College in Niigata.
The university team play in the Hokushinetsu Football League, and are a player-development school for J1 League and J1 side Albirex Niigata.
But, Lions caretaker coach V Sundramoorthy told The New Paper in an e-mail response, that results in Japan were secondary to him.
He said: "As I've always stressed, the testing of players in different formations during this training camp is more important to me than the results.
"This is a group of talented and committed players and it is important to offer match time to those who have not played together as a national unit.
"Hence, we used almost all 25 players during the past two matches."
Only goalkeepers Khairulhin Khalid (injured) and Izwan Mahbud have not tasted action on the current tour, with Sundram explaining that "we all know what Izwan can do".
"Making the team well-organised and tough to beat is the ultimate goal for sure but, right now, we are very much experimenting and I want to see how all the players do in the different situations," the former national striker said.
The 50-year-old then pointed out that the opponents they faced in the last two days were not inferior, and that six first-team regulars, such as Faris Ramli, Baihakki Khaizan and Hariss Harun, did not join the team for the tour.
Sundram said: "They may be university teams, but all Japanese teams are fast, fit and technically good.
"In fact, I believe a Japan university team beat some top clubs in the region earlier this year, so I'm pleased with how our team did.
"The positive side of this is that this gives the other players an opportunity to fight for places in my AFF Suzuki Cup squad, and this training camp will serve this purpose."
One player who is trying to force his way into Sundram's side is Geylang International forward Amy Recha.
The 24-year-old was a second-half substitute in the 3-2 loss against Niigata University of Health and Welfare, and played for about 60 minutes yesterday as a starter.
Recha said: "We had a good discussion about what happened yesterday (in the first match) and it was down to some tactical and positional issues.
"We gave our best today and the result was a morale-booster for Sunday's match against Albirex."
Recha is one of five uncapped players in Sundram's travelling squad, and hopes that he has impressed the coach enough to play him against Albirex, as well as in the "A" international match against Cambodia next Thursday in Phnom Penh.
He said: "Whether it's in Singapore or here (in Japan), I have been giving everything in training and matches to impress the coach.
"I hope to give him a (selection) headache."
- Lions' starting 11: Syazwan Buhari, Afiq Yunos, Abdil Qaiyyim, Faritz Hameed, Safirul Sulaiman, Hafiz Nor, Zulfahmi Arifin, M Anumanthan, Fazrul Nawaz, Sahil Suhaimi, Amy Recha.