Amri: The goals will come
Lions striker believes team's approach will pay off
The last time Lions striker Khairul Amri played at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila, he had a barren night in front of goal.
Singapore left the venue with a 0-0 draw in that AFF Suzuki Cup first leg semi-final clash against the Philippines on Dec 8, 2012, but went on to lift their fourth title.
Fast forward to 2016, and another goalless draw there tonight - this time against Indonesia - could be enough for Singapore to progress to the semi-finals of this year's tournament.
But that will happen only if Thailand beat the Philippines by at least two goals in their match played concurrently, 40km away.
And Amri wants to shorten the Lions' odds of making it through - by banishing their scoring woes in this tournament.
"We're in a different situation than we were back in 2012," the 31-year-old striker told The New Paper, as he stretched before a training session at the stadium yesterday.
"Back then, we were playing the home team. This time, it's Indonesia, and we can come out and attack.
"We know we have to. We can't just depend on a draw.
"The pressure is on, and it's up to us to control the game and get the goals we want.
"We must also make sure we don't get frustrated if we don't manage to score early, and stick to the coach's plan."
Singapore coach V Sundramoorthy has received his share of criticism for his tactics in the earlier games.
In the first group game against the Philippines, an early red card to winger Hafiz Abu Sujad meant the team morphed into a disciplined 4-4-1 shape, with Amri toiling alone up front as the team ground out a 0-0 draw.
In the second against a talented Thailand side, Sundram played an ultra-defensive "soak-and-strike" strategy which almost paid off, only for an 89th-minute goal by the Thais that sank the team.
Sundram is set to keep faith with the same starting 11 that started against Thailand, and Amri is confident it is the right approach.
"Look at how many clear chances we created in the second half against the Thais," said the striker.
"To be honest, I prefer that style of play - to hold the ball up and bring my teammates, who are bursting forward, running in support of me, into play.
"If we can do that again tomorrow, I'm confident we'll get the goals and result we need."
The team's barren run has ratcheted up expectation on Amri and winger Faris Ramli to provide flair to the attack, but the wiry trickster is not too worried.
"Yes, there's pressure on me, Amri and maybe even Safuwan (Baharudin, second striker) for goals, but I think we will be able to cope with it," said the 24-year-old Faris.
The last time the the Lions roamed the pitch at Rizal Memorial, it was of natural grass.
It has since been replaced with an artificial turf.
"It reminds me of the pitch at the Jalan Besar Stadium in 2012," said Amri, running his hand through the turf.
After all, that was where he scored the winner in the return leg semi-final.
The striker certainly seems comfortable on the surface, banging in goals in training yesterday and looking very much at home doing it.
Said Amri: "From day one, team spirit has been very positive and we appreciate the fans' words of encouragement after the last two matches.
"We're all fired up and determined to get a result tomorrow."