Much work for Sundram after 3-0 loss to Albirex
ALBIREX NIIGATA 3
(Go Hayama 3, Hiroshi Ibusuki 12, Kalil 15)
He reiterated the point that results were not the ultimate objective of the team's overseas training camp and, if national football coach V Sundramoorthy wanted to find out which areas needed work on after the trip to Japan, he now knows.
The Lions are building towards the Suzuki Cup in November and the defence is of immediate concern, after Singapore lost 3-0 to J1.League club Albirex Niigata on Sunday (July 24).
The visitors conceded three goals in the first 15 minutes and, while they did well to recover and not concede again in the friendly, the leakiness of the defence would have irked a coach known for being a stickler for organisation and defensive stability.
It was the second time in three games over five days that the Lions have conceded three goals and succumbed to defeat.
It has to be said that Sundram was missing five overseas-based players, including defensive lynchpins Baihakki Khaizan, Hariss Harun and Safuwan Baharudin for the week-long training tour of Japan, which followed a one-week centralised training camp in Singapore from July 11 to 17.
The 50-year-old coach was happy to have faced higher quality opposition and said: "It is beneficial that my team got to test themselves against an opponent in the J1 League, one of the top leagues in Asia, where footballing standards are high, with fast, fit and technically adept players.
"The past three matches have allowed me to try different formations and test varying tactics, and the players have also had valuable match-time together."
Last Wednesday, the Lions fell to a surprise 3-2 loss to the Niigata University of Health and Welfare, but they were much-improved in the following game, a 2-0 win over Japan Soccer College.
Yesterday, at the Denka Big Swan Stadium, Singapore were outclassed by an Albirex side featuring mostly second-stringers - the first team had just won a league match 2-1 at Omiya Ardija the day before.
Go Hayama, a 23-year-old midfielder who has already played and scored in the Japanese top flight, opened the scoring after just three minutes with a long-range effort.
Less than 10 minutes later, Albirex extended their lead via a header by 1.97m striker Hiroshi Ibusuki, a 25-year-old who had played in the top four divisions of Spanish football, including a sole appearance in La Liga with Sevilla in 2012.
Brazilian youngster Kalil, 20, made it three after 15 minutes after a well-worked team effort, before the Lions got their act together to prevent an avalanche of goals.
Singapore winger Gabriel Quak said: "This has been a good trip to gel and get ready for the Suzuki Cup. We trained and played in a conducive environment with good facilities and no distractions and we worked on our understanding, as well as tactics."
Sundram and his 25-man squad will fly to Phnom Penh tonight and they will conclude their national team training camp with an A international friendly against Cambodia at the National Olympic Stadium on Thursday.
Defender Madhu Mohana is looking forward to a better display.
"Every A international can contribute to a better Fifa ranking, so we need to get a result against Cambodia," he said.
"We have trained hard, trained well and stayed as a team. Now we have to use what we learnt here in Japan, put in a good performance and come back with a positive result to round up this training camp."
- SINGAPORE STARTING XI: Izwan Mahbud, Faritz Abdul Hameed, Madhu Mohana, Abdil Qaiyyim, Shakir Hamzah, Anumanthan Mohan Kumar, Amy Recha, Yasir Hanapi, Zulfahmi Arifin, Gabriel Quak, Fazrul Nawaz