Toothless Lions will bare teeth soon, says Fandi

Despite their first loss to Cambodia in 44 years, Football Association of Singapore staff coach Fandi Ahmad believes the national team can still turn a corner.

Thursday's 2-1 defeat in Phnom Penh marked the Lions' third defeat in four games in their two-week training tour, after losses to the J-League's Albirex Niigata (0-3) and Niigata University of Health and Welfare (2-3). The Republic did beat Japan Soccer College 2-0.

Although national caretaker coach V. Sundramoorthy declined to comment, Fandi, who assisted on the sidelines, said: "Generally we could have done better. I thought we did very well in terms of ball circulation and transition.

"Cambodia were better at transition and attack, but we managed to contain their attackers. With all the chances that we had, we shouldn't have lost - at least a draw."

Trailing 1-2 at half-time, the Lions put up an improved display after the break but struck the woodwork thrice.

One bright spark for Singapore was winger Gabriel Quak. The second-half substitute was lively as a link between midfield and attack.

"I believe we were very unlucky. I don't think Cambodia had more chances than Singapore. We should have finished the chances that we created," Fandi added.

The 54-year-old did praise the fighting spirit of the Cambodians, who took advantage of their few scoring chances.

The Angkor Warriors first scored via a Chan Vathanaka free kick in the 19th minute before Tit Dina was left unmarked by centre-back Abdil Qayyim and the midfielder scored in first-half stoppage time.

But apart from those two goals, the Lions' five-man defence was able to cope with Cambodia.

Keen on putting the surprise defeat behind, Fandi insisted Singapore are still an unpolished product as they blood the newer squad members and go in search of the winning blend before November's Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup.

He said: "Our objective is to give our younger players a chance. As you can see, there were so many new players and we are still missing our key players who are playing overseas. Hopefully, we can get better before the next international game."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2016, with the headline 'Toothless Lions will bare teeth soon, says Fandi'. Print Edition | Subscribe