Stange asks for perfect farewell from Lions
Stange wants Lions to give him perfect farewell gift
AFGHANISTAN v SINGAPORE
(Tomorrow, 6.30pm, Takhti Stadium, Teheran)
They are already guaranteed a place in the next round of Asian Cup qualifiers.
But the Lions will not take Afghanistan lightly in their final second-round World Cup/Asian Cup Group E qualifying match in neutral Teheran tomorrow evening.
National coach Bernd Stange, who will take his place in the Singapore technical area for one last time, told The New Paper yesterday: "I want to see a big fight from our players to deliver a result.
"The circumstances here are very difficult for both teams, with cold conditions (of about 14 deg C) and rain.
"Afghanistan are fighting to be one of the two best fourth-placed teams (from eight qualifiying groups) that go into the next round.
"I know they rested five players in (last Thursday's 5-0 defeat by) Japan, because those players are on one yellow card and they wanted to save them for Tuesday's match.
"So we have to expect an Afghanistan team that will give their best."
The German added: "All our players are aware if you represent Singapore, you have to give your best.
"I don't see any (hints) of arrogance or things like that from the players, where they believe (this match) is not important.
"This is clear. They know that every single result is important for world ranking, which will give us a good position for the next draw."
Lions midfielder Hariss Harun echoed the warning.
"Even though we have qualified in third place, Afghanistan still have much to play for," said the 25-year-old Johor Darul Ta'zim star.
"It's a dangerous situation for us and we could be surprised if we take it easy during the match.
"So it's important for us to focus and treat it as a very important match.
"Anyway, for me, it's always important to get as many points as we can and to get 13 points from this group will be a good achievement for the team."
Stange insisted that Singapore are not the favourites, pointing to the slim 1-0 victory in the reverse fixture at the National Stadium last October and Afghanistan's many overseas-based players as evidence that a tough match lies in store.
He also said that while he was happy a number of newer faces helped the team to a 2-1 win in a friendly against Myanmar last Thursday, the Lions' lack of "power and fitness" was a negative point.
But the 68-year-old, who has a record of 15 wins, four draws and 15 losses from 34 "A" internationals, said it is up to all stakeholders to help move Singapore football forward, even after his departure.
"Our fans are the true VIPs in football, and we have to do more to give our VIPs the best football possible," said the former Iraq and Belarus coach.
"And we can only do that if every party involved in Singapore football works permanently together as a team.
"It starts together with the desire to succeed in professional football.
"Most countries, including our neighbours, have invested much more money in football than Singapore in recent years.
"We need to invest more in areas including sports science, training tours, technical personnel and especially professional training facilities as soon as possible.
"There is a lot to do in the upcoming years, but I am leaving in good spirits and I have full optimism on the future of Singapore football.
"I would like to say 'thank you' to everybody, the fans especially, and to the media who treated me very fairly over three years.
"There are many challenges to Singapore football beyond our control, but we must always stay together and find solutions for these challenges."