Defence a concern for Sundram
Sundram laments conceding three spot-kicks but praises charges for fighting spirit
(Mohamed Al Romaihi 11-pen, Abdulla Yaseer 50-pen, Ismail Abdullatif 89-pen)
(Safuwan Baharudin 37)
Conceding three penalties in one game is tough to swallow for any coach.
But Singapore's national football coach V Sundramoorthy preferred to take the positives from the 3-1 defeat by Bahrain in Riffa yesterday morning (Singapore time).
"It's the first time as a coach I've had three penalties given against my team," Sundram told The New Paper over the phone.
"The previous was two, in the AFC Cup (as coach of Tampines Rovers).
"It's difficult to accept. But we move on."
Singapore got off to a poor start when Baihakki Khaizan, making his 125th appearance for the Lions, tripped a Bahrain attacker in the box in the 11th minute to concede the first spot-kick, which was put away by Mohamed Al Romaihi.
Stunned but not ruffled, the Lions pulled level in the 37th minute through Safuwan Baharudin, who scored with a header from a long diagonal pass by Baihakki.
But, just five minutes into the second half, Singapore were dealt a blow when the referee awarded Bahrain a second penalty as the Lions cleared their lines at a corner kick.
No offence appeared to have been committed and even the Bahraini players appeared stumped by the decision. Abdulla Yaseer stepped up to restore his side's lead.
With the Lions chasing an equaliser, the home side were awarded a third penalty in the 89th minute after Madhu Mohana hacked down a Bahrain attacker who had sped across him and was through on goal.
Ismail Abdullatif made no mistake from the spot.
"The second penalty awarded against us was certainly very harsh," said Singapore captain Hariss Harun.
"However, it was a good match for us, especially for the younger players who either started the game or came on as a substitute, like Anu (M Anumanthan) and Iqbal (Hussain)."
Sundram said he did not want to pinpoint individual errors, and instead praised his side for their desire and fighting spirit.
"The boys were compact, the desire was there," said the coach.
"They were fighting for one another.
"A draw would really have been a fair result.
"To play a team 33 places above us in the world rankings, and to limit them to hardly a chance in open play, is a good sign."
Out of the three teams grouped with Singapore in Group A of November's AFF Suzuki Cup, only Thailand were in action yesterday morning.
South-east Asia's No. 1 team put up a spirited display in their World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, but finished crestfallen after losing 1-0 through an 85th-minute penalty.
Indonesia, meanwhile, play Group B's Malaysia in a friendly in Solo on Tuesday, while the Philippines are in Bishkek to play Kyrgyzstan in their own sparring match, on the same day.