Football: Sundram to field best XI against Myanmar

New national coach V. Sundramoorthy (left) is keen to get his one-year tenure off to a winning start against old foes Myanmar tonight. The Lions have won five of the last six games the two sides have played since 2008.
New national coach V. Sundramoorthy (left) is keen to get his one-year tenure off to a winning start against old foes Myanmar tonight. The Lions have won five of the last six games the two sides have played since 2008.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Coach will not waste any time as AYA Bank Cup is key to Lions' Suzuki Cup preparations

There is no time for first-day nerves as V. Sundramoorthy will be relying on his best XI for his first game in charge of the national team today.

The Lions' caretaker coach, who was appointed a week ago, had earlier made it clear that he would adopt a results-first approach during his one-year tenure.

When asked if he would be deploying his best players in Singapore's opening AYA Bank Cup match against Myanmar at Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon tonight, the 50-year-old tactician stuck to his pragmatic philosophy.

Sundram said at the tournament press conference yesterday: "At the moment, we definitely want to use our best players against the Myanmar team."

This is in contrast to his predecessor Bernd Stange, who had a penchant for testing out and giving a chance to younger players.

But with the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Championship (Suzuki Cup) coming up at the end of the year, Sundram knows he cannot afford to lose any time.

He said: "We are looking for a good performance (as part of our) preparation for the Suzuki Cup.

"I have experience (in the coaching team) before with the national team, but this is my first time being the head coach. It will be a good exposure for a local coach to take the Singapore team."

Sundram faces a goalkeeper selection headache. Izwan Mahbud (thrice) and Hassan Sunny (twice) have both featured in the last five matches against Myanmar.

A good head-to-head record stands in favour of Sundram's players.

The Lions have won five of the last six games the two sides have played since 2008, including their most recent encounter - a 2-1 win - in a friendly match at Jalan Besar in March.

But the White Angels will be looking to avenge the defeat in front of their football-crazy home supporters.

Myanmar will be counting on the young strike duo of Aung Thu, 20, and Kyaw Ko Ko, 23.

Aung scored one of two goals for his team at last year's Fifa Under-20 World Cup, while Kyaw (five goals) was the joint-second top scorer at the 2011 SEA Games competition.

But Singapore defender Baihakki Khaizan insisted that the visiting backline are not intimidated.

He said: "It's a team effort and all of us have to attack and defend as a team."

Myanmar's German coach Gerd Zeise is determined to use the quadrangular to fire a warning shot to their regional rivals ahead of the biennial AFF Championship in November, when the country will co-host with the Philippines.

The winner of the Myanmar-Singapore game will take on either Hong Kong or Vietnam in the final on Monday.

Zeise said: "It's a big challenge, good preparation for the (AFF) Suzuki Cup too. It's a point for us to see where we stand, are we able to find a way (to score)?

"All the three teams are very strong. I know them. They are able to put some of their best players on the bench and that shows how strong they are.

"We will try our best and we will perform."

AYA BANK CUP

Hong Kong v Vietnam: 4.30pm
Myanmar v Singapore: 7.30pm
- Singtel TV Ch109

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2016, with the headline 'Sundram to field best XI against Myanmar'. Print Edition | Subscribe