LionsXII not distracted by Sundram's leaving

I have been involved in the beautiful game for over 30 years. In that time, I've learnt that speculation is part and parcel of football.Coaches and players will come and go from any team.

Over the last two weeks, the LionsXII have been presented a unique situation.

Reports have surfaced that I am on the brink of a move at the end of the season. Then, Malaysian Super League side Johor Darul Takzim announced their intention to sign two of my players - Singapore internationals Hariss Harun and Baihakki Khaizan.

I've been asked if all the transfer speculation and talk of my possible move have caused a distraction in the team as we look to fight for the Malaysia Cup. My answer is that we are all professionals.

Our bread and butter is football, and we must perform to the best of our abilities for the team we are contracted to.

It can be difficult.

Anywhere in the world, players like Gareth Bale, Wayne Rooney and Luis Suarez face the same unsettling situation.

To an extent, their teammates might get distracted as well.But the LionsXII players understand that I'm still the coach, and my focus is solely on getting the team to the Malaysia Cup final.

Likewise, I'm sure players like Hariss and Baihakki are fully committed to the job at hand, and nothing else.

Transfer speculation can be a good thing. As a player, whenever I attracted interest from other teams, I always felt honoured and flattered. It motivated me to perform even better in the matches ahead.

No one should worry about injuries that would affect their value or availability.Injuries can happen any time, anywhere. Players must give 100 per cent to the club that pay their salary. Nothing else.

I'm not at all surprised about the interest in LionsXII players from Malaysian teams.We finished as champions in this year's Malaysian Super League and that's how some of the boys have got noticed.

I'm proud to have helped throw some of them into the limelight, so that everyone can see their potential.

My advice to them, if they are deliberating offers, is to consider very carefully all the factors at hand. They must weigh the pros and cons of playing abroad.

Having played for Basel in Switzerland, and several Malaysian state teams like Kedah, Pahang and Kelantan, I can tell you that playing as a foreign import carries very high expectations.You need to be a cut above the local players and deliver on the pitch week in, week out.

Most importantly, you have to be role model - remember, you are representing Singapore football. Our task ahead is to fulfil our objective of reaching the Malaysia Cup final on Nov 3.

Despite our 22 draw at home to Kedah on Tuesday, I believe we can get there.

Perhaps the sixweek break affected our rhythm. We must quickly get back into tournament mode, especially since the Cup is a very short competition.

The next two games - both very difficult away fixtures against Sarawak (Saturday) and Perak (Tuesday) - should wake us up. We need to be tactically smart on both occasions.

If we get something from each game, we will be back in the swing of things.


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