Football: Lions plan not to miss boat

Fazrul Nawaz, training at the Amara Hotel, said Syria capitalised on their one chance to score and beat the Lions in September.
Fazrul Nawaz, training at the Amara Hotel, said Syria capitalised on their one chance to score and beat the Lions in September.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

They must beat Syria to advance further in World Cup campaign, qualify for Asian Cup

With Syria visiting the National Stadium on Tuesday, the Lions are under no illusions that they need nothing less than a victory in the World Cup qualifier against the Middle East side.

But, first, Singapore will need to shake off memories of their previous Group E encounter against the Syrians in neutral Oman.

"The game against Syria will allow us to see where we are as a team. In the previous match against them, we created a lot of chances but didn't manage to take them," right-back Faritz Hameed told The Sunday Times.

Fazrul Nawaz also lamented: "They (Syria) had one chance and they took it.

"That was the difference between us and them."

Then, in September, the Lions played an impressive attacking game but were made to pay for a series of missed chances.

The Syrians scored against the run of play via midfielder Oday Al-Jafal.

With Singapore losing 0-3 at home to Japan on Thursday, it left Bernd Stange's men third in the five-team group with 10 points, two behind Syria.

Losing at Kallang on Tuesday will ensure the visitors will have sealed second spot and a chance to qualify for the third round of the World Cup qualifiers.

The best four second-placed teams in the eight groups will also qualify automatically for the 2019 Asian Cup.

There is also the added danger that fourth-placed Afghanistan, with six points, can overtake the Lions with two matches to go.

Yesterday, the Lions had light training with Stange giving the first-team players a rest while the rest of the squad played futsal for an hour on a roof-top pitch at the Amara Hotel.

The Lions are expected to attack Syria at home, with Faritz stating that they will play the game very differently compared to the defensive display against Japan.

"Japan are in a different league compared to us. We had to stay compact," the LionsXII player said.

"This time, against Syria, we will go on the attack but at the same time we must remember to remain compact at the back as well."

Warriors FC forward Fazrul, who is known for his high work-rate, believes the Lions can secure the three points.

He urged his team-mates: "We will need more concentration and more focus this time."

Faritz, who noted that team spirit remains high even after the defeat by table-toppers Japan, said the hosts will swarm forward from the first whistle on Tuesday.

"We are looking to get on the scoresheet early.

"We know we can put the ball in the back of the opponents' net this time," he added.

"Victory will be a good morale booster for everyone."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 15, 2015, with the headline 'LIONS PLAN NOT TO MISS BOAT'. Print Edition | Subscribe