Despite seeing his side throw away a two-goal lead, hard-talking coach Richard Tardy refused to pin the blame on the Singapore Under-21 footballers following their agonising defeat by Vietnam in the third-place play-off at the Nations Cup yesterday.
Singapore led comfortably 2-0 at Malacca's Hang Jebat Stadium with Adam Swandi's (42nd- minute) goal and Hazim Faiz Hassan's 51st-minute spot kick.
But their opponents clawed back with a penalty conversion in the 55th minute, followed by a stoppage-time equaliser to send the contest to a penalty shoot-out as no extra time was played, which Vietnam won 5-4.
Letting out a big sigh and adopting a more sympathetic tone - a contrast with his angry words following their 3-0 defeat by Malaysia on Friday - Tardy lamented his charges' lack of match experience.
The Frenchman said: "I don't want to blame any player for this.
"To play two matches in three days is not easy for them. Forty per cent of the players do not play (regularly) in S-League or too little time in the Prime League. We don't have too many players for the level of these kind of games.
"One of the problems is the technical quality of some players who miss and lose the ball too fast. Immediately we give back the ball to Vietnam and then we must run after them."
Captain Ammirul Emmran, 21, was disappointed with their fruitless campaign across the Causeway.
The Garena Young Lions midfielder said: "We're disappointed that we could not get the results we wanted. But it's a good way to see what areas we need to work on, and to go back and improve on those weaknesses."
While the SEA Games are more than a year away, Tardy is hoping to organise more training and matches for the team.
He said: "I must propose to the FAS (Football Association of Singapore) to have (more) friendly games in the calendar. One year is not long time, we must organise camps and friendly games, because we need to arrive at the level to compete at this level of competition.
"There's a lot of work we must do."