Singapore Under-23s downed 1-0 by India
Head coach praises U-23s' spirit but bemoans lack of technical quality
|SINGAPORE U-23||INDIA U-23|
|(Germanpreet Singh 80)|
The quest for a historic qualification for the AFC Under-23 Championship later this month or even a podium finish at the SEA Games next month will be a long shot if the Young Lions do not improve on their poor scoring record.
Long shots were all they had to show for in their 1-0 defeat by an India U-23 side at Choa Chu Kang Stadium last night.
It took them 86 minutes before they registered their first shot on target when Ikhsan Fandi fired straight at Vishal Kaith from range.
Richard Tardy, head coach of Singapore's national youth teams, bemoaned the lack of technical quality that could impede their hunt for success.
He said: "It's the level of Singapore (football) today. We recover the ball but, in the next two or three passes, we lose it again... We don't play the counter attack well.
"We must also arrive into good shooting positions. We don't do that because the technical quality is not enough... Players don't arrive to find support."
It seems like the Young Lions are shorn of ideas when it comes to set-pieces as well.
In an S.League match against Geylang International last Sunday, the Garena Young Lions had a free-kick in the middle of the park deep into added time while they were 2-1 down.
But, before their players could pack the box, the set-piece taker rushed his delivery and shanked it into a teammate instead, wasting a precious opportunity.
Last night, from a similar position, Adam Swandi did wait for support, but inexplicably passed the ball back into his own half instead.
Tardy said: "In the first half, we had two or three good set-pieces, but not in the second half. Players must put the ball where they want and we must work on this."
The senior India national football team have swiftly improved from 171st in 2014 to 96th, 73 spots ahead of the senior Lions, in the latest Fifa rankings. And their U-23s were decent too, despite this being the first time Stephen Constantine had managed to gather his team to play any opposition after two weeks of training.
They were physically imposing and technically sound but, crucially, they had that killer instinct that wins games.
Germanpreet Singh seized on Irfan Fandi's miscued clearance in the 80th minute to fire beyond Zharfan Rohaizad and into the top corner with his side's only shot on target.
There were some positives for Tardy and his team though.
Zharfan claimed crosses with authority, as Irfan and Shahrin Saberin, and later Lionel Tan, formed a resolute wall in front of him.
Adam and Hanafi Akbar also showed occasional glimpses of skill, as Tardy experimented with an attacking starting lineup that also included Ikhsan, Amiruldin Asraf and Taufik Suparno.
Tardy said: "When you lose, you are never happy and the players are really disappointed. The target was a good performance and a positive result. While we lost, I can't question the spirit of the team.
"But we lost more energy in the second half because we were running after the ball more than our opponents.
"We need to reduce mistakes and keep more of the ball in the build-up... We play the long ball too much."
The Young Lions will play the same opponents at the same venue on Wednesday, before they head to Myanmar for the AFC U-23 qualifiers from July 19-23. They will then play at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur next month.