Old hand Riedl targets 2-3 goals

Indonesia captain Boaz Solossa training with his team at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, where they face Singapore tonight. While they are bottom of Group A, the underdogs have entertained fans with their attractive, offensive football.
Indonesia captain Boaz Solossa training with his team at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, where they face Singapore tonight. While they are bottom of Group A, the underdogs have entertained fans with their attractive, offensive football.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

MANILA • Always ready to offer a quote, and a wisecrack or two, Alfred Riedl is one of the more colourful coaches at the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.

Although the Austrian has never won the trophy in his spells with Vietnam (1998-2000, 2003-2004, 2005- 2007), Laos (2009-2010) and Indonesia (2010-2011, 2016-present), he certainly is an experienced campaigner in South-east Asia.

Even though the ongoing Indonesia Super League has deprived him of a number of players, the 67- year-old has still managed to entertain with a cavalier attacking game.

Yesterday evening's training session, although limited to just 50 minutes, was spent focusing on polishing the Garudas' offence - with wide midfielders Rizki Pora and Andik Vermansyah pumping in crosses for strikers Boaz Solossa and Lerby Eliandry to finish.

"Of course, we are hoping to do it (score against Singapore). If we don't hope, then we shouldn't be playing football," came Riedl's instant reply when asked if he could breach the Lions' tight rearguard, which has conceded just once in two Group A games.

"We will try everything and hopefully, we will score two to three goals by the end."

It is perhaps his sense of optimism, of leading the fight for the underdogs, that has endeared the white-haired tactician to the local supporters in his many travels.

In 2006, Riedl was ill with kidney failure but his achievements with the Vietnam team - earning three SEA Games silver medals in 1999, 2003 and 2005 - saw a ready queue of fans offering to donate an organ. A suitable Vietnamese donor was found and the coach's life was saved after a transplant.

Now in the pink of health, he is plotting the Lions' downfall.

With both Singapore and Indonesia needing a win to have a good chance of reaching the semi-finals, Riedl is confident V. Sundramoorthy will not deviate from his defensive approach, saying: "I guess they (the Lions) will play similar.

"They are tough opponents, getting seven yellow cards in two games so far.

"I am expecting a really hard game and I will be telling my players to keep their nerves and not react."

And what if Sundram goes against type and decides to attack?

Smiling, Riedl replied: "I don't know how strong their offence is. Because I never got to see it."

But in a thinly veiled swipe at Singapore's defensive approach to this tournament, he said: "I have accepted that we will play against a style that is opposite of football.

"They (Singapore) are one very organised team, although that is not my way of football."

Wang Meng Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2016, with the headline 'Old hand Riedl targets 2-3 goals'. Print Edition | Subscribe