Tardy lays down marker for Young Lions
U-22 coach wants at least two points from clashes with Myanmar and hosts Malaysia
Singapore Under-22 coach Richard Tardy has set a minimum target of two points from their first two Group A matches in the upcoming SEA Games football tournament as they eye a spot in the semi-finals.
The 67-year-old Frenchman told The New Paper yesterday: "We start with two tough games against Myanmar (Aug 14) and Malaysia (Aug 16) with just one day's rest in between, and they could decide our fate before we meet Laos (Aug 18) and Brunei (Aug 23).
"With this in mind, we want to finish these two matches unbeaten, with a minimum of two points. Three points or more would be good for our chances to make the final four.
"We face two strong opponents at the start, so we need to be on top of our game.
"We cannot accept stupid mistakes and not being ready.
"We lost to Myanmar recently and Malaysia earlier this year and I'm sure our players want revenge. They know the importance of getting good results at the SEA Games."
The Young Lions had returned home last week after failing to progress from the AFC Under-23 Championship qualifiers in Yangon, Myanmar.
They lost 2-0 to their counterparts from Myanmar and 7-0 to Australia before beating Brunei 4-1.
Hougang United coach Philippe Aw had followed their matches and felt that they need to "sort out their defence" if they are to stand a chance at the SEA Games.
The 40-year-old Singaporean said: "It's good for their confidence that they have started to score from open play, but they need to defend better as a team and they need a leader to command and organise the defence.
"Irfan (Fandi) is a striker converted into a centre back, so he has a relatively low number of games played in that position.
"Shahrin (Saberin) had one good season with Home United, but has struggled to lead the Garena Young Lions defence this term.
"Against tougher opponents such as Myanmar and Malaysia, perhaps they could do with someone like Lionel Tan, a natural centre back who has played regularly this season, and play with three centre backs so they have fewer gaps at the back."
Tardy agreed that his charges have to improve defensively, but poured cold water on suggestions to change his formation at the 11th hour.
He said: "Defensively, we made mistakes and were punished. We also need to be more efficient in front of goal to score more.
"It's not easy to change the system so close to the SEA Games.
"Playing with more defenders doesn't mean we will win the game, it's also about how we organise our wide players and midfield.
"But we will be ready to make changes if something happens during the game."
The Young Lions will fly to Perth, Australia, tomorrow for a training camp. They will play against the Australia Under-20s on Friday and a western province selection next Tuesday before returning the following day.
However, they will miss three key players in Irfan, Adam Swandi and Amiruldin Asraf, who have been released to play for Home United in tomorrow's first leg of the AFC Cup Asean final against Ceres Negros.
Tardy defended the decision to head Down Under despite it being winter in the southern hemisphere and facing opponents of different ilk to those they will face at the SEA Games.
"We had other options in Thailand and China, but it's the rainy season over there," he said.
"Sure, the weather in Perth will be different from Singapore and it will be cold, but there's no rain or snow in Perth and we play our matches at 3pm, when it's not so cold.
"In the end, we chose Perth because of the good conditions and good facilities.
"It's just 4½ hours away by flight and there's no time difference. In any case, we return on Aug 9 and we should recover by Aug 12 when we fly to Malaysia.
"We already know our opponents at the SEA Games, so this camp is about working on our fitness and tactics.
"It's all about concentrating on our team, and our target is to play two good games in Australia and head to Malaysia on a positive note."