Lions give Fandi his first win as their coach
But he refuses to get carried away, saying there's not much time to Suzuki Cup
Fandi Ahmad got his first win as Singapore's interim coach with a 2-0 victory over Fiji last night at Bishan Stadium.
The victory was also the first time the Lions had beaten their opponents by more than a goal since thrashing Cambodia 4-0 in a World Cup qualifier in June 2015.
However, Fandi refused to get carried away with last night's result, acknowledging that his team are still a work in progress.
|(Hariss Harun 12, Ikhsan Fandi 13)|
With the AFF Suzuki Cup looming in less than two months, the 56-year-old knows that time is not on his team's side.
He acknowledged that the Lions will have to make full use of the short window of time together to gear up for the biennial tournament, which Singapore have not won since 2012.
The Lions will play two more friendlies against Mongolia (Oct 12) and Cambodia (Oct 16) and go on a training camp in Japan ahead of the AFF Suzuki Cup.
Singapore, who are in Group B with defending champions Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Timor Leste, kick off their campaign at home against the Indonesians on Nov 9.
While he was pleased with last night's win, Fandi also highlighted that improvements have to be made to the midfield, which he felt lacked discipline at times.
Said Fandi: "We need to tighten up the midfield. We need to make it more compact and work on transitioning from defence to attack.
"It takes time, but there's not a lot left. We need to train more often and iron up the loose ends."
He added that the situation was made harder as overseas-based players are only able to join the team for training during the Fifa international match windows.
Following last night's win, which was his second match in charge after last Friday's 1-1 draw with Mauritius, Fandi commended his players' attitude and the spirit of togetherness that was clearly evident among them.
He said: "I'm happy with their commitment and camaraderie. Now the players know their roles and the youngsters must step up."
Last Friday, Fandi handed the Suzliman brothers - Zulfadhmi and Zulqarnean - their international debut and he continued to blood untested players last night.
Young Lions' Jacob Mahler, 18, was thrown into the starting line-up, deployed as a defensive midfielder in his maiden international match, while Warriors FC's Ho Wai Loon also came on for his first Lions appearance.
Fandi also started with seniors such as Faritz Hameed, Baihakki Khaizan, Zulfahmi Arifin, Gabriel Quak and Shahdan Sulaiman, all of whom had either came on as a substitute against Mauritius or did not play in that match.
With experience flowing through the side, it did not take long for the Lions to draw first blood.
In the 12th minute, skipper Hariss Harun planted a powerful header from Zulfahmi's corner kick to open accounts.
Barely a minute later, Quak punted a long, pinpoint pass to Ikhsan Fandi, who held his ground to slot the ball between the legs of Fiji goalkeeper Misiwani Nairube to make it 2-0.
The Lions continued to conjure decent chances, but failed to convert them - another point not lost on Fandi .
Fiji were reduced to 10 men with five minutes to go after Kolinio Sivoki was shown his second yellow card following a challenge on Mahler.
While Fandi has got off to a good start as interim Lions coach, he remained coy about their chances at the AFF Suzuki Cup, saying: "Don't expect too much, but it's good to stay positive.
"People expect us to play well and we will try and we hope that fans will continue to stay and support us."
SINGAPORE: Hassan Sunny (Zaiful Nizam 61), Faritz Hameed, Irfan Fandi, Baihakki Khaizan, Zulfahmi Arifin, Jacob Mahler, Hariss Harun (Ho Wai Loon 64), Gabriel Quak (Yasir Hanapi 46), Shahdan Sulaiman (Shahril Ishak 46), Zulfadhmi Suzliman (Khairul Amri 64), Ikhsan Fandi (Shakir Hamzah 80).