Thais were ripe for the taking

Thais were ripe for the taking

What went wrong for Singapore? Our main issue was that, going forward, we didn't have anyone who was outstanding. Khairul Amri had a great game, took his goal well, and he was my Man of the Match.

He's a talented player who works so hard every game but is unlucky with injuries, so I'm happy for him to get that goal. Unfortunately, some others didn't lift themselves up for the game.

Shahril Ishak and Shahdan Sulaiman, for example, were on the pitch, but it was like they were not there. Were you surprised how good a fight Singapore gave Thailand? I wasn't. In fact, I was disappointed we didn't win.

I expected more from the Thais but, when I saw they had lots of young players in their side, I knew they would not dominate us. It wasn't a great Thai team who beat us and, if you look at the statistics like possession and goal attempts, it was pretty even.

The Thai defence was very suspect, and every ball Singapore played between the two centre backs gave them problems. We should have capitalised by taking the three points. They were there for the taking.

Sahil Suhaimi was a surprise starter on the right wing. What did you make of that? I was surprised to see Sahil, and also Faris Ramli, starting on both flanks.

Young players tend to take longer to settle into big games like these, so I thought putting in more experienced players would have been more beneficial. Last night wasn't one of Faris' better games.

That chance in the 75th minute when he shot into the side netting showed his lack of composure. A cut-back into the middle would have been a sure goal for Shahril.

Then again, if you don't throw youngsters into this kind of games, you never know if they can handle the responsibility. Baihakki Khaizan, on a yellow card, was taken off at half-time, and his centre-back partner, Safuwan Baharudin, handled the ball in the 88th minute to concede the penalty that consigned the team to defeat. Is Singapore's defence a worry for you?

I'm sure the coach's decision to take off Bai was because he was on a yellow card and he was walking a thin line, and nothing more. Bernd Stange knew that there are two other group games to be played, and he probably wanted to avoid a suspension for Baihakki in case he got sent off.

I think our defence dealt well with the Thai threat. The first goal was a result of the defence switching off for a split second. It happens sometimes.

As for the penalty Safuwan conceded, what can you say? I feel for the boy. The ball was whipped in and he tried to move his arm, but wasn't quick enough. It was unlucky.

What's next for Singapore? I think we have a good chance to bounce back with a win over Myanmar in the next game.

I watched them in their opening game against Malaysia and I think we have too much quality for them. They had an extra man for more than half the game but couldn't capitalise, and had to settle for a 0-0 draw.

If Singapore play to their potential and Amri, Shahdan and Shahril perform, the Lions will beat Myanmar.


This article was first published on November 24, 2014.
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