Prove yourselves against Iran, Tardy tells players
Coach Tardy challenges young Lions to prove mettle against fancied Iran
FAS U-21 INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGE CUP FINAL
SINGAPORE U-21 v IRAN U-21
(Tonight, 8pm, Bishan Stadium)
Richard Tardy is not shying away from the fact that his Singapore Under-21 charges will enter tonight's FAS Under-21 International Challenge Cup final against Iran as underdogs.
Instead, he wants them to rise to the occasion and, hopefully with some strong home support, show how far they have progressed in the past four months.
The young Lions are preparing for next year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur and met their Iranian counterparts twice at the end of March, losing 1-0 and 2-0 in Teheran.
The two friendlies were followed by a disappointing showing at the Nations Cup in Malacca last month, when they lost 3-0 to Malaysia in the semi-finals before being beaten on penalties by Vietnam in the third-place play-off following a 2-2 draw.
However, their poor run of form ended emphatically on Wednesday when they routed Hong Kong 5-0 to book their place in the final, and Tardy has challenged them to build on the momentum.
"On paper, of course Iran are the favourites," he told The New Paper yesterday.
"They beat us twice in Teheran and perhaps they can be confident for this game while we're the outsiders.
"But it is a very exciting for our players to be able to play in this kind of game because they can prove their level against one of the best teams in Asia.
"Perhaps it's good that we're not favourites because our players can then show what they can do against a good team, and it's something interesting for the coaching staff to see how they react.
"Hopefully, we'll even be able to talk a little revenge for the defeats in March."
More importantly for the team's SEA Games preparations, Tardy believes such tournaments can actually be more beneficial than just playing friendlies.
The Frenchman added: "We know that at the SEA Games, we'll be playing against good teams under pressure.
"One year may seem like a long time, but it will fly as we prepare. It's only normal there will be pressure.
"But I hope the players put this on themselves too, because it is something they will have to be prepared for at a tournament like the SEA Games.
"To have the experience of playing in the final with a cup to win, I think the players will be really looking forward to the game."
Tardy was slightly disappointment at the poor turnout for both of Wednesday's semi-finals, which included the Iranians beating Uzbekistan on penalties following a 1-1 draw.
And captain Shahrin Saberin is hoping the home fans will be in the Bishan Stadium stands tonight, with his side needing all the help they can get from off the field.
"For sure, the '12th man' is the most important factor for us," said the Home United defender.
"When the fans are behind us, our morale and confidence are boosted and it increases our chances of getting a positive result.
"The spirit in the team is high after the win (over Hong Kong) but we must keep our heads down because the final is against Iran.
"We know they are quality opponents of a high standard but, this time around, we will be more confident too."