Young Lions must beat Indonesia tonight, or else...
Fandi seeks a win tonight to revitalise Young Lions' SEA Games campaign
It might only be the Young Lions' second match of the SEA Games, but Fandi Ahmad's men are already facing a defining date with Indonesia at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila tonight.
Ahead of Singapore's opener against Laos on Tuesday, Fandi said anything less than a win would leave his side with a "mountain to climb".
A goalless draw against V. Sundram Moorthy's underdogs was compounded by the fact Indonesia beat three-time defending champions Thailand 2-0 in their Group B opener.
With the Thais - who have won twice as many football golds as all the other teams combined - heavily fancied to bounce back against Brunei today and Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup champions Vietnam winning their opener against Brunei 6-0, the Young Lions would likely need a result against Indonesia to maintain a realistic chance of reaching the semi-finals.
Fandi told The New Paper: "I'm hoping to revitalise our campaign, we need to win tomorrow. We cannot dwell on past games...
"Every game is important, but tomorrow we must start winning, because then we will gain confidence to play Thailand and Vietnam...
"This group can go either way now. Indonesia have already upset Thailand, and I'm sure they will buck up.
"For us, a win will be a boost because then everyone in the group will be quite even."
The Young Lions could be without midfielders Hami Syahin and Jacob Mahler - who have knee injuries - and overaged defender Tajeli Salamat, who has a foot concern.
While they created enough chances to take all three points against Laos - who have never beaten Singapore at the SEA Games - Fandi is expecting a much-improved performance against Indonesia.
The 57-year-old believes that Indonesia's potentially more open approach could better suit the Young Lions than Laos' counter-attacking style.
Said Fandi: "Against us, maybe they will be more open (than against Thailand), which will be better for us.
"When teams soak and counter, it is very difficult for us because we don't have many creative players.
"We need to create and take our chances. Our flanks must be faster, the midfielders must be aggressive in pressing - which we did not do in the first half against Laos...
"We need to be aggressive from the start. Yesterday, some players were nervous, maybe because they've never played at the SEA Games before.
"This cannot happen (again) because we need everyone to play a high-intensity game...
"They have two fast wingers and two overlapping fullbacks coming from deep. Our defenders and midfielders need to double team (them)."
Key to the Young Lions' chances tonight will be striker Ikhsan Fandi. He has been in good form for the senior national team with eight goals in 18 caps, but failed to take any of his four chances against Laos.
Said the 20-year-old: "Of course, I was a bit disappointed, I just needed one ball to go in and we would have gotten the win, but I guess it wasn't my night."
Despite inflicting Thailand's first SEA Games defeat since 2011, Indonesia coach Indra Sjafri believes the clash against the Young Lions could prove more crucial.
He said: "The match against Singapore is of the same importance or probably more important than the first match against Thailand.
"In a tight group like this, it is very important to maintain a winning trend."