Singapore on the hunt for a hitman

SINGAPORE - Bernd Stange's Lions huffed and puffed on Wednesday night in their 2-0 defeat to Oman at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

But they did not come within a country mile of blowing the Omani house down.

Indeed, Faiyz Rusheidi in the visitors' goal ended the game without making a single save.

While the lack of fitness among the Lions is an issue that can be rectified, and tactical movement can be taught and learnt, the absence of a natural striker could hamstring Stange's football revolution.

"Where can we find this striker in the S-League - there are a lot of foreigners in this position," Stange conceded.

"We have Qiu Li, the best (Singaporean) goal-scorer in the league in the last couple of weeks - we tried everything."

With eight goals to his name, the Balestier Khalsa forward is seventh in the S-League's leading scorers' chart, but he failed miserably on Wednesday night.

The Lions managed a meagre four shots on Wednesday night, but none troubled the Omani goalkeeper.

Qiu Li, 32, ended his night tamely, hauled off after picking up a booking in the second half.

While skipper Shahril Ishak put in a solid shift up front, his performance bore little fruit.

There was at least some joy in the competitive debut of 17-year-old attacker Adam Swandi.

"Adam did well for his first game, I was really impressed," said Indra Sahdan, who was once considered the Republic's most natural striker.

"I think given time he will shine for the country."

Indra, 34, has scored against the likes of Manchester United, Japan and Uruguay, but while his future in the national team is by no means secured, the converted attacking midfielder believes there is hope in Shahfiq Ghani, as well.

"If Shahfiq improves his fitness, he also will give us something to really look forward to," said Indra.

The Lions were missing the talented Khairul Amri, who may well have started but had to pull out to be with his expecting wife, awaiting the birth of their child.

His presence would have given Stange options, but the German is still on the hunt for a hitman.

"Can you name me a striker (in the S-League). It's not easy," he said.

"We have to find young strikers. I've seen some already - but I won't name them, (because) maybe you'll laugh, but we have to take that next step."

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