Young Lions hungry for first win
Coach Tardy eyeing confidence boost as SEA Games loom
|gaReNa YOuNg lIONs||BalesTIeR KHalsa|
They are the worst team in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League, at least that is what the table says about Richard Tardy's Garena Young Lions.
They have just one point from 10 games, and the ignominy of owning both the league's worst attacking (five scored) and defensive (31 conceded) records.
When they face Balestier Khalsa tonight at the Jalan Besar Stadium, the Young Lions, effectively the Republic's national Under-22 side, will be going for nothing less than a win - their first of the season.
And they will have to do that without several key players, including captain Shahrin Saberin, Joshua Pereira and Muhaimin Suhaimi.
Against a Balestier side just two spots and five points ahead of his charges, Tardy is feeling optimistic.
"The problem is that we will be missing many players, but I know we will do our best in this important game, to get three points," said the Frenchman, who will lead the U-22 team at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur in August.
"There are players who didn't go to Qatar (with the U-22 team) and they will want to take the chance to prove that they deserve a place in the SEA Games squad.
- Warriors v Tampines Rovers (8.30pm, Choa Chu Kang Stadium)
- Garena Young Lions v Balestier Khalsa (8.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
- Albirex Niigata v Home United (8.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
"We have to submit a list of 30 names for that, and I already have the final list in my head, but I hope those who play, show what they have."
During the U-22s' two-match training tour in Qatar last week, they lost 3-0 and 2-0 to their Qatari counterparts.
But Tardy was adamant that getting top-level experience, even though they lost, is better than not getting any at all.
"It's not good that we keep losing, and it's important to get our first win (of the season), but in terms of experience in the S.League, this is very important," he said.
"If not for the Young Lions, many of these SEA Games players will not get to play many games."
The Young Lions will play only two more S.League matches - against Warriors FC and Geylang International - before taking some six weeks to prepare for the SEA Games, and Tardy believes the Young Lions will return to the league in September a much-improved outfit.
"The team will be together for a long time, preparing to play how I want them to play. It will be a totally different team then."
Tardy drew some positives from the Qatar experience, pointing out that only a penalty miss stopped his charges from taking the lead in the second fixture.
While the Singapore side went on to lose 2-0 to a Qatar side that changed their entire team in the second half, Tardy was buoyed by the organisation his team showed.
He is looking for the same tonight, against Balestier.
He said: "We want that first win, and we will try to get it, even if we are missing key players."