Football: Sundram's Lions tenure off to a winning start

Singapore midfielder Faris Ramli celebrates his 34th-minute goal in Yangon. He latched on to a through ball from defender Baihakki Khaizan, finishing off a counter- attacking move.
Singapore midfielder Faris Ramli celebrates his 34th-minute goal in Yangon. He latched on to a through ball from defender Baihakki Khaizan, finishing off a counter- attacking move.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Sundram gets first win as Lions coach in 'difficult game' and promises improvement

AYA BANK CUP

Myanmar 0
Singapore 1

He promised results when he took over, and V. Sundramoorthy delivered as Singapore beat Myanmar 1-0 in the AYA Bank Cup yesterday.

A goal from Faris Ramli, one which had Sundram's signature counter-attacking football all over it, gave the Lions victory in a packed 32,000-seater Thuwunna Stadium.

The Lions will play Vietnam in the final on Monday, while hosts Myanmar will take on Hong Kong in the third-place play-off.

Yet yesterday's sluggish display showed Sundram is facing an uphill task to get the Lions in shape ahead of November's Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup.

Sundram, who was appointed Lions coach last Friday, said: "I have to be honest, it was a difficult game.

"They put us on the backfoot. But it's nice to start with a win and we're looking forward to winning more matches."

In Yangon, the Lions were outplayed as Gerd Zeise's side kept possession and ran at the Singapore defence after quick one-touch play.

If not for magnificent goalkeeping from Hassan Sunny, picked ahead of Izwan Mahbud, the Lions could have been on the end of an embarrassing result.

As early as the third minute, Myanmar striker Than Paing found himself through on goal, but Hassan blocked his shot. That proved to be the template for the match as Myanmar toiled and Hassan foiled.

But Faris Ramli put the visitors ahead after 34 minutes. Baihakki Khaizan's through ball, meant for Fazrul Nawaz, found Faris, who finished coolly.

The second half carried on in the same vein, Myanmar dictating the game and Singapore looking to hit on the counter. It was reminiscent of Myanmar's 1-2 loss to Singapore, then coached by Bernd Stange, at the Jalan Besar Stadium in March, when the White Angels dominated play but failed to convert.

The game's best chances fell to Fazrul, first when Gabriel Quak rounded goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Phyo and squared the ball to the forward, and next when Faris' low cross found him in the box. But he missed both chances.

Sundram bemoaned the lack of preparation time, but said: "Looking forward we should have more possession, more penetration, and be more composed in our decision-making. This is my first game in charge. We will improve."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2016, with the headline 'Off to a winning start'. Print Edition | Subscribe