SINGAPORE - The South-East Asia (SEA) Games won't be the same without a Singapore football team, says Indonesia's Under-23 head coach Rahmad Darmawan.
V Sundramoorthy and his U-23s face their Indonesian counterparts tonight knowing that they need a good result to get the Singapore National Olympic Council's (SNOC) blessing to take part in this year's Games.
Even though tonight's friendly game at the Jalan Besar Stadium could be an opportunity for the Indonesians to launch a pre-emptive strike and eliminate a rival for the gold medal, Rahmad believes his opponents must make the flight to Myanmar.
When asked if he wanted all countries in the region to be represented at the Games, the 46-year-old said: "Yes. The SEA Games should have many countries participating like Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar also.
"Singapore are a good and strong team and they have a good and organised federation that is good at preparing Under-23s and Under-21s."
While Sundram's charges are racing to book their places, Indonesia are still in the process of whittling down the playing squad from a pool of around 65 players.
Just two players - defender Seftia Hadi and midfielder Rasyid Bakri - remain from the squad that faced the young Lions in Solo on June 8 as Rahmad looks to narrow down his options further.
Rahmad said: "The target is a gold medal, because for the last SEA Games we only got runners-up.
"This is the second game we are playing against Singapore and we have an entirely different team except for two players (who played in the first friendly in Solo). I have a pool of 65 players to choose from and this is the second batch of players.
"Our focus is to select players for the SEA Games whereas for Singapore, it is to build the team they already have."
"We met Singapore last time in Jakarta and they have a strong and organised team with tall players and are able to keep possession of the ball."
If Singapore are to get anything out of the match, Safuwan Baharudin and his defensive colleagues will have to deal with the threat posed by Indonesian attackers Andik Vermansyah and Rudi Setiawan.
What the pint-sized duo lack in size, they make up for in speed, which is a combination that Rahmad believes will give any defender a problem.
Andik, who scored the winner against Singapore during the Suzuki Cup last year, said: "It will be an interesting game because Singapore are really good.
"Even though I was part of the team that beat Singapore in the Suzuki Cup, I don't want to look at the past but focus on the match.
"We should not under-estimate Singapore and we also need to adjust and adapt because we're not used to playing on a synthetic field."