Football: Lions' goal drought drags on

Singapore captain Hariss Harun being tackled by Syria's Amro Jeniat, who scored the first goal in the Middle East side's 2-0 win in Paroi. Hariss says his team need to cut out mistakes at the back. The Lions play Cambodia at Bishan Stadium on Sunday in th
Singapore captain Hariss Harun being tackled by Syria's Amro Jeniat, who scored the first goal in the Middle East side's 2-0 win in Paroi. Hariss says his team need to cut out mistakes at the back. The Lions play Cambodia at Bishan Stadium on Sunday in their final warm-up ahead of the AFF Suzuki Cup starting next Saturday. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Lions draw blanks for third straight game in 0-2 loss to Syria, coach worried over finishing

Singapore failed to score for the third game running, as V. Sundramoorthy's men lost 0-2 to Syria yesterday in an international friendly.

Amro Jeniat and Khaled Almbayed scored in the second half as world No. 96 Syria beat the Lions, ranked 171st in the world, for the fourth straight time.

The two teams had crossed paths in the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup qualifiers in 2013 and then in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers last year.

Yesterday's match was played at the Tuanku Abdul Rahman Stadium in Paroi, Seremban, where the Syrians are staging a training camp.

Sundram, the national caretaker coach, admitted that he was concerned by his team's failure to find the net despite carving out decent scoring chances.

A former national striker, the 51-year-old said: "My biggest worry is that we are not making full use of our chances. But we're creating chances, this is something good.

"We must finish the chances, that is the main thing."

TIME TO RIGHT WRONGS

At this level, of course if you make mistakes, you are going to be punished. We are so close to a major tournament and we have to cut out these mistakes.

HARISS HARUN, Lions midfielder, on the need to cut out defensive lapses ahead of Singapore's AFF Suzuki Cup opener against the Philippines next Saturday.

Singapore also fired blanks against Malaysia (0-0) and Hong Kong (0-2) in two friendlies last month. The clash against Syria was their first official match since returning from a five-day training stint in Qatar, where they played two local teams.

Sundram was, however, pleased that the first half ended 0-0, especially since senior players like Khairul Amri and Baihakki Khaizan did not start owing to slight fitness concerns.

He added that he had picked Syria as an opponent as he felt they played a physical game, much like the Philippines, whom the Lions will play in their Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup opener next Saturday.

Besides co-hosts Philippines, Singapore, four-time winners of the AFF Cup, are drawn alongside Thailand and Indonesia in Group A.

Midfielder Hariss Harun, who captained the side yesterday, said the match was instructive for his team-mates, and that they would have to learn to cut out their mistakes at the back.

He said: "At this level, of course if you make mistakes, you are going to be punished.

"We are so close to a major tournament and we have to cut out these mistakes."

With Singapore playing Cambodia in their final warm-up match on Sunday, the Johor Darul Takzim star called on his team-mates to believe in themselves and get a much-needed win under their belts.

Hariss, who has four Malaysian Super League titles, said: "We need to get some momentum... that one win will go a long way in boosting our confidence. But the players have to believe that they can do it.

"We had that previously in the past couple of years, that extra arrogance to stamp our authority on the pitch. We can, as a team, do great stuff like we did in the past.

"But it has to come from within."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2016, with the headline 'Goal drought drags on'. Print Edition | Subscribe