Football: Sundram has faith in strikers' ability to recover from slump

Khairul Amri, who has scored 31 goals in 106 appearances, will lead the Lions' attack in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup, but the first priority is to end the team's goal drought against Cambodia in today's friendly.
Khairul Amri (right), who has scored 31 goals in 106 appearances, will lead the Lions' attack in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup, but the first priority is to end the team's goal drought against Cambodia in today's friendly.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

National caretaker coach V. Sundramoorthy is confident his strikers will be able to find their scoring boots by the time the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup begins next Saturday.

The Lions have been goal-less in their last three outings and Sundram acknowledged that the goal drought has cast a pall over the team.

However, ahead of today's friendly against Cambodia at Bishan Stadium, he said yesterday: "Obviously you know that we've not been scoring in the last couple of games and we need a bit of luck.

"We're getting into the box, getting in the crosses and getting in the shots (and with) just a twist in our luck, probably we will get the goals.

"Things can turn for us. We are getting there. Physically, mentally and tactically, the boys are preparing and we are correcting the areas we should be looking at."

Turning his attention to today's game, Sundram noted that Cambodia can no longer be regarded as pushovers.

"Every team has improved. Last time, we got out of the house thinking that one could score 10 goals against Laos, just thinking how many goals you could score against Cambodia.

"But times have changed. They have improved and they can compete with the likes of Hong Kong."

Cambodia enter today's match on a four-game winning streak, including three to qualify for the AFF Cup. They also stunned Singapore 2-1 in Phnom Penh in a friendly on July 28.

Assessing the striker situation, Sundram explained that a team effort will be required for the Lions to start chalking up goals.

Currently, the burden of scoring goals is shouldered by Khairul Amri, who has netted 31 goals in 106 appearances. The other two forwards, Shahfiq Ghani and Sahil Suhaimi, have scored a total of three international goals between them.

Amri, 31, said: "Playing alone up front is not easy and I need support from everyone else in the team.

"I know that all of Singapore wants me to score goals. Hopefully, we start tomorrow and can keep scoring."

Sundram added: "We have Hariss, who can push up, Safuwan (Baharudin), Hafiz (Sujad) can score too. And Faris (Ramli) and Gabriel (Quak).

"For set pieces, we have Baihakki (Khaizan) and Daniel Bennett.

"For Safuwan, we're trying to give him more options to play up front.

"Amri has been sort of start-stop due to injury, but I believe that on his day, he's the best striker. You've just got to coach with who you've got."

He admitted that after the retirement of stalwarts Indra Sahdan, Noh Alam Shah and Aleksandar Duric, the team do not have out-and-out strikers.

"We are lacking strikers... There's not many of them around actually. If you look around maybe there's Khairul Nizam but he's injured," he said.

He also noted that his line-up would change depending on the needs of each game. Singapore open against co-hosts the Philippines on Saturday, before facing defending champions Thailand on Nov 22. They end their group stage against Indonesia on Nov 25.

"Thailand are fast and tricky, so we need to find players who are quite similar to compete with them," he said.

"The Philippines - we need bigger players who are physically strong.

"So we'll assess game by game."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 13, 2016, with the headline 'Sundram has faith in strikers' ability to recover from slump'. Print Edition | Subscribe