Sundram hopes forwards can deliver goals in key qualifer
National coach hopes in-form attackers can deliver the goals against Taiwan in key Asian Cup qualifier
At the Geylang Lorong 12 field last night, the Lions looked a spirited bunch.
There was an unmistakable spring in the step as they prepared for the upcoming Asian Cup qualifier against Taiwan at the Jalan Besar Stadium on June 10.
And why not? The encouraging 0-0 away draw against Bahrain in their Asian Cup third-round qualifier in March has given the team a huge lift in morale.
After that Group E opener, the Republic are now joint-second behind leaders Turkmenistan, with the top two teams progressing to the tournament proper.
Singapore national football coach V Sundramoorthy hopes the result against Bahrain is just the catalyst his team need to achieve a first-ever qualification to the continental showpiece in the United Arab Emirates in 2019.
The 51-year-old told The New Paper: "Holding Bahrain away and bringing a point back give a lot of confidence to the team.
"That brings belief that we can play a good game and get a positive result against a stronger team. It's a great boost.
"We cannot take Taiwan lightly. They held Vietnam to a 1-1 draw before losing 3-1 to Turkmenistan in March.
"They are a well-organised side with good individuals who can turn games around, but getting the three points against them at home will be key to putting us in a good position to qualify."
Victories and indeed goals have been hard to come by during Sundram's reign.
In 13 international matches, the Lions have won just twice, in 1-0 triumphs over Myanmar and Cambodia. They have scored just six times and conceded 17.
The wily tactician admitted he is concerned by his team's inability to put their goal-scoring chances away.
However, he is also heartened by the recent performances of his key forwards in the first round of the S.League.
Faris Ramli is in red-hot form with seven league goals, including four in the 9-3 mauling of Brunei DPMM FC last week.
Half-brothers Khairul Amri and Khairul Nizam, as well as a rejuvenated Shahril Ishak, are all on four goals.
Sundram said: "Hassan (Sunny) can be counted upon in goal, and we have options in defence and midfield with the likes of Hariss (Harun), Safuwan (Baharudin) and Yasir (Hanapi), as well as Izzdin (Shafiq) and Shahdan (Sulaiman) coming back from injury.
"The problem was with wingers and strikers. So, it's good that Faris has been playing well, and Amri and Nizam are scoring goals in the league. I hope they can translate this form onto the international stage."
Sundram, who has called up a provisional 28-man team for training, revealed that he will be putting more emphasis on dead-ball situations.
"Our set-pieces can be improved and there's a lot of scoring potential from there," he said.
"We will take these two weeks to prepare the way we want to approach the game tactically, and work in groups to meet these objectives.
"We don't have a Lionel Messi who can single-handedly win games, so we need to stay focused, know one another's roles and work as a unit to get the all-important three points."