Tardy: Young Lions are ready for SEA Games
Playmaker Adam a doubt for SEA Games but U-22 coach optimistic of meeting semi-final target
The Singapore U-22 team may have lost both their friendlies during their recent Australia training tour, but coach Richard Tardy remains optimistic that his charges can still meet their semi-final target at the SEA Games.
The Young Lions lost 4-0 to Australia U-20 and 5-3 to the Western Australia state team during their week-long training camp in Perth.
They returned home on Wednesday before their SEA Games football campaign kicks off next week in Kuala Lumpur.
They face Myanmar in their Group A opener on Monday, before taking on hosts Malaysia on Wednesday, Laos on Friday and Brunei on Aug 23.
Tardy told The New Paper: "We have to be realistic, Myanmar and Malaysia are better than Singapore at this moment, but this is football, every game is different and anything can happen in football.
"I told the players that we need to get two points from our first two games if we want to qualify for the semi-finals, but I believe we can make the target."
Tardy's optimism stems from what he has seen from his team in Perth, despite the losses.
"In Perth, I didn't like what we did in the first game. We have a problem starting competitions, and that happened against the Australian team," he said.
I've tried to push my players to believe in themselves. We must be convinced that we can do something in Kuala Lumpur.Richard Tardy, national Under-22 coach
"But we had a few days to work with the players in training, and I think we played well in the second game, scoring three goals."
Tardy revealed that the team took on board what he worked on in training sessions between the two games, and showed even more on the pitch.
"I told them we needed to be more offensive, and not give the opponents too much time. We worked on this in training, and the team tried to do this on the field," he said.
"Another good thing was the spirit that the team showed.
"We were down 2-0 in the first 20 minutes, but they did not give up at all - this is the kind of spirit that we must have when we go into a competition."
The Young Lions' scorers in the 5-3 loss were Hami Syahin, Taufik Suparno and Shahrin Saberin.
"We had a good camp, on good pitches and in good weather so we could push the players.
"We played two difficult games, but I think that it was good for the players."
But Tardy may not get all that he is wishing for.
The squad may have to do without the presence of midfielder Adam Swandi, who has been a starter for the team.
Adam was taken off due to a knee injury during Home United's 2-0 loss to Ceres Negros in the second leg of the AFC Cup Asean zone final on Wednesday.
"The final list of 20 is ready, we have dropped Amir Zalani and Darren Teh, but we are still waiting for an answer for Adam," said Tardy, who revealed that Garena Young Lions' Zulkarnaen Suzliman will take the place of Adam should the latter be deemed unfit for duty.
"We will need to change the organisation of the team (if Adam is not fit) but, more importantly, we will be losing a player with experience who will be able to push the team," he said. "This is why we are waiting for Adam."
Tardy knows the importance of his team's performance at the Games and, while he is certain that a large number of his squad will eventually populate the senior national team, he called for big performances starting on Monday.
"I said 'Happy National Day' to the players and told them that the SEA Games are very important, that all the people in Singapore are looking at them more than even the national team, at this moment," said Tardy.
"I have tried to take some of the pressure, they are young boys. But yes, we are ready.
"We need to be ready. Young boys can be inconsistent, but I hope we can see the good side of the team on Monday."