Tardy confident Young Lions can give Albirex a good fight
|ALBIREX NIIGATA||GARENA YOUNG LIONS|
The news came as a bolt from the blue.
Last Wednesday, the Football Association of Singapore announced that Garena Young Lions coach V Selvaraj would step down after just five months in the role due to "family reasons".
National Under-22 coach Richard Tardy took over the reins at the developmental side, who are bottom of the nine-team S.League, as the FAS looks for a permanent replacement.
Tardy's immediate task could not have been tougher - back to back matches against the top two teams in the S.League.
Last Sunday, the Frenchman saw his charges lose 2-1 to second-placed Home United, who are in the Asean semi-final of the AFC Cup.
The Young Lions face league leaders Albirex Niigata tomorrow and Tardy believes his team can give the Japanese side an equally tough fight.
"I am proud of our team's performance last week because until the end, Home were worried we could equalise," he said.
"Even though they dominated and we still made some (defensive) mistakes, we showed that with a young team, we can cause them some problems ourselves."
Defending S.League champions Albirex are undefeated after nine games, and posted a 4-1 win over title challengers Tampines Rovers in their last match.
When the White Swans played the Young Lions earlier this season, they ran out 5-0 winners.
But Tardy remains bullish.
"We have nothing to lose against Albirex," he said. "For (Albirex), normally this would be an easy game, but I know their mentality is to never take any game easily anyway.
"So from the first minute, we must be ready to run, and be prepared to defend more than attack.
"But we have a very good spirit, and we will do our best to post a good result."
Tardy, who previously coached Rwanda to the Under-17 World Cup, will lead the U-22s at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur in August, with the Young Lions likely to form the bulk of his squad.
He said he was surprised by the Selvaraj's sudden departure, but had no qualms stepping in.
"As a coach, I know I must be ready at any moment, because anything can happen in football," said Tardy.
"So I was immediately ready to help coach the Young Lions and continue the job done by Selva.
"It is not easy to play the two best teams in my first two games, but I am happy to help the young players to continue in their development.
"I am a competitor, and being on the bench instead of the stands allows me to fight a bit more for the team."