Fandi to ring in changes against Fiji
Lions coach to make 4-5 changes to his starting line-up tonight to give other players a chance
Fandi Ahmad drew several positives from the last time the Lions played, a 1-1 draw against Mauritius last Friday.
While Fandi wants a result to underline his work with the national team, he is poised to ring several changes tonight when Singapore face Fiji at the Bishan Stadium.
In his first game in charge, the 169th-ranked Singapore came from behind to salvage a draw with a Mauritius side that sit 14 positions above them in the world football order.
Fiji are world No. 165.
"I like the positivity in the players' attitude, which is important," said Fandi, who is also the head coach of youth.
" Everyone is eager and wanting to play, to fight for their spot. I saw a lot of good combination play and we were defending very well.
"But we've seen enough of some players and we hope to give others a chance.
"There will be four or five players coming in, and some senior players who didn't play will start.
"The result is important, but we hope we have enough time to really build this team to become better."
One of those poised to return to the starting line-up is goalkeeper Hassan Sunny, who asserted that the national team are undergoing a metamorphosis.
"I've been back these last two weeks only and what I've seen is something different (from before.
"Everybody works hard on the field. We compete, but after training, we are a team," said the 34-year-old, who plies his trade in the Thai second tier with Army United.
"I believed that our mindset needed to change, but when I came back, I saw that we were already there. It's very positive."
There may be an intangible improvement in the Lions, but out on the field, there remain several issues that need ironing out.
It is a fact not lost on Fandi, who will not be taking the Fijians lightly.
He rues a lack of concentration, especially in the transition from attack to defence, and the inability to capitalise on set-pieces, and hopes for better tonight.
Fiji may have only two professional players - captain Roy Krishna, a forward with A-League side Wellington Phoenix, and Scott Wara, a youth player who in England's Stoke City - in a team with an average age of 23.7 years.
But recent results against South-east Asian opposition suggest that Fandi's charges will not have an easy time.
Under Frenchman Christophe Gamel, Fiji suffered narrow losses to Malaysia (1-0 in July), Philippines (3-2 in March) this year, after securing a 0-0 draw with Indonesia last September.
"The way (Singapore) play is very advanced, they are all professional, with some players based overseas too.
"We know we will struggle at some point, but we are here to give our best in this tough game," said Gamel, who revealed that some of his "amateur" players are good enough to play professionally.
"We will try to win, of course."
- Tickets ($12 for adults, $6 for concession) are available from fas.org.sg/tickets and onsite at Bishan Stadium today.