Lions have a big gap to bridge

He is trying to get his players to adopt a modern, high-tempo pressing style. And Singapore national coach Bernd Stange is using all sorts of modern technology to churn out statistics to convince his charges of his footballing philosophy.

Since the German's appointment in May, he has been using statistics to measure the gulf between the Lions and the best teams in the world.

It makes for uneasy reading, clearly showing how far Singapore are behind, although Stange wants to use the facts to motivate his men, ranked 155th in the world, to aim higher.

He told The Sunday Times: "At the top, you have the best teams like Spain, Argentina and Germany. Next, we have countries like France, England and Sweden.

"Japan, South Korea and the best African countries will be in the third tier. In the fifth, there will be countries like Syria, Jordan and the UAE. Singapore is somewhere in the sixth or seventh level."

When the Lions were beaten 1-6 by China in a September friendly in Tianjin, four tracking cameras - from a company called Amisco that were installed in the stadium - monitored the passes, runs and movements of every player.

The match video is uploaded onto the company's servers in France and a comprehensive analysis is churned out within 24 hours.

That information was compiled into two dossiers: a 47-page analysis of passes and movements as well as a 15-page breakdown of physical data, like the distance ran and speed of the players.

Stange, who previously coached the national teams of East Germany, Iraq and Belarus, said: "Top teams in the world complete 600-700 passes. We managed 276 completed passes against China.

"If we see stats like these, we have to think what's wrong with us and try to improve."

The Lions are not lacking in the stamina department though.

In the match against China, defensive midfielder Noh Rahman, who played the full 90 minutes, ran 11.1km, which compares favourably to the 11.7km average of English Premier League (EPL) players.

Also, the Lions covered a total of 106.6km in that game, compared to China's 105.4km.

But to achieve the high-tempo style that Stange preaches, speed is the key and that is one area where the statistics show that the Lions are found wanting.

Runs in excess of 24kmh, the equivalent of running 100m in 15seconds, were counted as sprints.

When Gareth Bale scored a Champions League hat-trick for Tottenham against Inter Milan in 2010, he sprinted a phenomenal 791m, way above the EPL average of 324m.

Against China, a Singapore player, whom Stange declined to name, managed just 14m.

The Lions' best performers were full-backs Shakir Hamzah (178m) and Irwan Shah (214m).

Apart from pure speed, Stange also wants to improve the players' speed of thought.

He said: "One-touch football is the trend now and top European teams, on average, release the ball within 1.1 seconds of receiving it.

"Our players take 2.4sec and that is too long."

Translated into numbers, Singapore's pass-completion rate is also another area for improvement.

Stange believes in building attacks from the back by passing the ball forward and centre-back Baihakki Khaizan scored well with 89 per cent of his 36 passes completed - the highest in the team against China.

But perfection can be achieved, as Barcelona's midfielder Xavi Hernandez demonstrated against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last season with an astonishing 96 passes completed out of 96 attempted.

The Amisco technology will also be used during next month's SEA Games when statistics will be churned out overnight to help Under-23 coach Aide Iskandar.

Stange hopes that the system, which is said to cost more than 100,000 euros (S$168,000), will be installed at the Singapore Sports Hub that is due to open next year.

Aide, 38, said: "The information provided is very detailed, covering the physical and technical aspects of our game, and it helps me to plan ahead."

meng@sph.com.sg


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