Lions will excite against Malaysia
Sundram says his men will play attractive, intelligent football
They struggled to capture the imagination of the public at the 2014 Suzuki Cup on home soil, unable to find any sort of consistency as defending champions as they exited the region's biggest football tournament in the first round.
The national football team have not come out of the funk after that shock result, stirring little excitement on the pitch in Asian Cup qualifiers and various friendly matches.
On Friday, V Sundramoorthy will lead his men into battle with arch-rivals Malaysia, and the caretaker national coach says the Lions will play attractive and clever football.
"We want to go out there and win the game," said the 50-year-old (above), after their training session at the Geylang Field.
"We must be attractive in our play, and at the same time being tactically clever and be in good positions while attacking or defending.
"But it's not like we are going to play like Barcelona; attractive football to me means being in good positions and understanding what each other's roles are, with or without the ball."
The Causeway Challenge at the National Stadium will be Sundram's first game in charge at home since he was appointed Lions' coach in late May.
He is preparing the national team for next month's Suzuki Cup, and the Lions will head off to Hong Kong the day after the Malaysia match for a friendly on Oct 11.
The meeting on Friday between the traditional rivals is the first since Malaysia beat Singapore 3-1 at the same 55,000-seater venue in the 2014 Suzuki Cup, a result that saw the Lions exit the tournament at the group stage.
Malaysian coach Ong Kim Swee. PHOTO: TNP FILE
The Malaysian national team, led by coach Ong Kim Swee, will have a few new faces after the retirement of experienced stars like Safiq Rahim, Aidil Zafuan and S Kunanlan.
Yesterday, both Sundram and his players stressed the need to "win the trust" of the fans.
Ahead of training, the Lions watched footage of Indonesia's 3-0 win over Malaysia last month.
Former national striker Sundram was coy when asked if he would go for the jugular against the new-look Malaysian side.
He said: "They have a huge base of players, so even if one player leaves they have 24 teams to choose his replacement from."
Wingers Gabriel Quak and Faris Ramli acknowledged that a positive result would be a "good platform" to start a new chapter for the Lions.
Quak, 25, said: "Games like these are always more than just a friendly; the last time we met we lost to them and while that chapter has closed, this (game) could be the beginning of something special.
"It is also our warm-up to the Suzuki Cup, and it's important to get a good result and deliver a good performance to show the fans, and win back their trust and support."
Said Faris, 24: "We want to turn it around and we want to start it right this time. The Causeway Derby is the best platform for us to make a change for the national team.
"I hope this time, we can hold our heads up high and play as if there's no tomorrow."