Football: Goal-shy Lions must attack Indonesia in final game

Khairul Amri (left) and Tanaboon Kesarat vie for the ball during the Suzuki Cup 2016 match between Singapore and Thailand at the Philippines Sports Stadium, in Philippines, on Nov 22, 2016.
Khairul Amri (left) and Tanaboon Kesarat vie for the ball during the Suzuki Cup 2016 match between Singapore and Thailand at the Philippines Sports Stadium, in Philippines, on Nov 22, 2016. ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

MANILA • The statistic is embarrassing: Singapore are now the only team who have yet to score in this edition of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.

And striker Khairul Amri believes that the Lions will have no choice but to attack Indonesia in their final Group A game on Friday.

The veteran fought a lonesome battle up front in national caretaker coach V. Sundramoorthy's initial 4-4-1-1 system against Thailand, one which morphed into an ultra-defensive 6-3-1 formation the moment possession was lost.

However, after firing blanks in the 0-0 draw against co-hosts Philippines last Saturday and going down 0-1 to Thailand yesterday, Singapore need goals.

"We definitely have to go at Indonesia," Amri said after yesterday's loss.

"We cannot sit back. Of course, we have to keep it tight at the back but we have to attack. We still have a chance but we need to score and put our bodies on the line."

Although the Lions had a conservative game plan, they crafted two good openings that could have stunned Thailand, the defending champions and four-time winners.

Right-back Juma'at Jantan was played through by Amri in the 63rd minute but he was unable to shoot on target.

And in the 86th minute, winger Faris Ramli picked out left-back Shakir Hamzah's storming run but Thai goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan palmed away the left-back's effort.

While Sundram's defensive approach has frustrated opponents and fans alike, Amri still believes the tactics are effective.

The 31-year-old said: "It is a good tactic because the Thais push up all the time. That will leave space behind them for us to counter-attack and create 'three versus two' situations.

"In fact, if you look at the second half, we created the clearer chances. I'm very much gutted now, the thought of losing the game to such a late goal is so disappointing."

And that brings the subject back to Friday's do-or-die mission against the Garudas.

As Amri intoned: "We really need to score this time."

Wang Meng Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2016, with the headline 'Goal-shy Lions must attack Indonesia in final game'. Print Edition | Subscribe