Football: Commitment tops Stange's list

Football: Commitment tops Stange's list
Gabriel Quak beating Syrian goalkeeper Mosab Balhous and defender Hamdi Al Massri to score the winning goal for Singapore in their surprise 2-1 triumph at Jalan Besar last month.

Winning is not utmost on national football coach Bernd Stange's mind ahead of today's AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Syria in Teheran, Iran.

Not when he is shorn of at least six first-team players to face a side eager to avenge last month's shock 1-2 loss at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

No wonder the German said: "We will try to get a good result here, but I will be very happy if we don't lose."

Instead, what the 65-year-old will be looking out for is commitment and adaptability, particularly among the young players called up to fill the void left by regulars such as Hariss Harun, Safuwan Baharudin and Baihakki Khaizan.

The likes of Afiq Yunos, 22, Faris Ramli, 21, Anumanthan Kumar, 19, and Raihan Rahman, 22, could possibly feature in Teheran, which was picked as a neutral venue with civil war raging in Syria.

Said Stange: "I will be looking for commitment to play for Singapore. I want to see how good, how strong, and how committed they are to represent the national team at a high level.

"They should also try to fit into our system, which has helped us achieve success in our past matches."

Indeed, his high-tempo, possession- football system is already reaping rewards since his arrival in May, with the 155th-ranked Lions combining well last month to stun Syria, a team ranked 14 places above them in the Fifa world rankings.

While Stange is ruling out qualifying for the 2015 Asian Cup, preferring to work towards a long-term target of reaching the 2019 edition, he insisted that this is no excuse for his team to falter.

"It is a matter of confidence and experience, which we lack a little bit, but I am expecting a lot from our youngsters," he said.

"Against better opponents, the most important thing is to control the game. The youngsters should not panic if things go wrong, even if we are one goal down."

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