Suzuki Cup: Lions will sweat, but win

After the first two games in Group B on Sunday night, many fans might think champions Singapore's clash with Myanmar tonight is a sure-win for the Lions.

After all, Bernd Stange's men were strong for much of Sunday night and were unlucky to lose 1-2 to Thailand after a last-gasp penalty, while Myanmar were unable to break down a Malaysian team that played for more than half of their encounter with just 10 men.

I believe tonight's meeting will be a much closer affair than anyone might anticipate.

Singapore will win, but by a slim margin.

We have the players, like Khairul Amri, Shahril Ishak, Shahdan Sulaiman and Faris Ramli, who, if they perform to their high standards, should get us the win.

The Lions are the better team; Stange's men are capable of retaining their Suzuki Cup crown.

But Myanmar are no minnows.

They have dangerous players, like Kyi Lin, the right winger who is strong and fast and will run at defenders.

Striker Kyaw Ko Ko, who is intelligent and has good technique, will surely be a danger if he's given time and space on the ball.

Indeed, a number of players in the Myanmar team are able to keep the ball well.

They have had technically-sound footballers for a few years now, so it's not a surprise how they played against Malaysia.

With former Singapore coach Raddy Avramovic in charge, Myanmar will be well organised and will hold their shape.

They will defend much better at set-pieces than they have been in recent years, and they might surprise off their own corner-kicks and free-kicks.

Being the "smaller" team, they might be expected to stay compact and look for a chance to hit Singapore on the counter-attack.


But - and you can call this a gut feel - I think Myanmar will come out and attack us, instead of sitting back.

Our players know the equation: Lose and we're out.

So the boys know what they have to do.

Hariss Harun will be an influential player for us again, and it'll be good to have him back in central midfield because of the qualities he brings to the team.

After he was pulled back into defence for the second half to replace Baihakki Khaizan, who was in danger of picking up a second booking, I felt Thailand began controlling the game because there wasn't anyone plugging the gaps in centre midfield.

Talking about Bai and Hariss, both are on yellow cards and a booking against Myanmar means they will miss the final Group B game, a potential winner-takes-all tie against Malaysia on Saturday.

But they should not even be thinking about this tonight. They know they should just go out and play, and judge each situation as it comes.

They're experienced players and I expect them to have no problems handling themselves.

*V Sundramoorthy is regarded as one of Singapore's greatest footballers and is now a coach. He guided the LionsXII to the Malaysian Super League title in 2013. He was talking to Sazali Abdul Aziz.

This article was first published on Nov 26, 2014. Get The New Paper for more stories.