Underdogs' tag suits Lions just fine
Winger Quak believes next month's Suzuki Cup is a time for them to show what an all-local side can do
With the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup less than a month away, tactical discipline seems to be the buzzword in the Lions camp.
While Fandi Ahmad has stressed his belief in playing "attacking football" after he was handed the job of national coach in May, he yesterday highlighted that tactical discipline will be a key focus of preparation in the lead up to the Nov 8-Dec 15 tournament.
Fandi said in a pre-match press conference yesterday: "We need a solid, compact team. It's all about discipline.
"Technically, we can't improve much as a team, (but) we can be stronger if we are compact, disciplined and committed. We've said before, teams in the regions have surpassed us.
"Now it is time for us to come back with a different strategy - which is being tactically disciplined, motivated and hungry."
The Lions will ramp up their preparation for the biennial tournament with friendlies against Mongolia at Bishan Stadium tonight and Cambodia at the Phnom Penh Olympic Stadium next Tuesday.
They will then leave for a two-week training camp in Osaka, Japan, where they will play a J1 League side, an Under-23 team and a University side before returning to Singapore, where Fandi will name his AFF Suzuki Cup squad.
Singapore are grouped with champions Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Timor-Leste in Group B of the competition.
What we lack in foreign players, we make up for in tactical discipline. We are one of the better teams in the region (in that regard).National team winger Gabriel Quak
Recent poor results, coupled with impressive showings by regional rivals in the Asian Games and World Cup qualifiers, mean four-time champions Singapore are no longer one of the fancied sides.
But that suits winger Gabriel Quak just fine.
The 27-year-old said: "This is a crucial year for us to step up and show what a team made up of all locals can do.
"I also like the fact that we are going into this tournament as underdogs, it puts us in a good situation where (people) are not expecting much.
"What we lack in foreign players, we make up for in tactical discipline.
"We are one of the better teams in the region (in that regard). This year, discipline is key for us and that is what we are working towards."
For only the second time since 2002, the Lions will enter the AFF Suzuki Cup without any foreign-born players. They were also an all-local side in 2014, when the Lions failed to make it out of the group stage under Bernd Stange.
Group rivals Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, meanwhile, have included naturalised players in their most recent squads.
When asked if that puts his Lions at a disadvantage, Fandi replied: "They might look down on us because they think we are weak now, but we will surprise them, that's a promise."
There should be less surprises in his AFF Suzuki Cup selection with the Lions legend saying there are just six more spots up for grabs in the 23-man squad.
Fandi might have decided the identity of 17 members of his tournament squad, but he is yet to solve the conundrum of who to play in the No. 10 role.
Name-checking wide men Faris Ramli, Adam Swandi, Iqbal Hussain and Quak as options to be the creator-in-chief, the 56-year-old said: "We're still looking for a No. 10...
"We would like Shahril (Ishak) to start but, at the end of the day, we need him more in the second half because we want to play with pace and speed.
"We are putting a lot of (emphasis) on play down the flanks. We have speed in Gabriel, Zulfadhmi (Suzliman) hopefully recovers, Yasir (Hanapi)... So we're still looking for that No. 10.
"There are three or four players eligible for the spot. Whether they can click is not easy, but I hope someone will come up in the next two games, before (the training camp in) Japan."