Football: You learn nothing from parking the bus and losing 1-0, says Lions coach Tatsuma Yoshida

Ikhsan Fandi, watched by Baihakki Khaizan and Darren Teh, on the ball during Singapore's training session ahead of their game against Uzbekistan. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Ikhsan Fandi, watched by Baihakki Khaizan and Darren Teh, on the ball during Singapore's training session ahead of their game against Uzbekistan. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Lions will learn nothing by packing defence as they face rejuvenated Uzbeks, says coach

WORLD CUP 2022 QUALIFIER

Singapore v Uzbekistan

National Stadium. Toggle, 7.45pm

The Lions will persist with Tatsuma Yoshida's attacking philosophy, even against stronger opposition, with the national coach stressing that it was the only way towards self-improvement.

Since Yoshida took charge in May, Singapore now favour a quick-pressing game and are more ambitious up front. That has led to impressive results in the World Cup qualifiers - they drew 2-2 with Yemen and beat Palestine 2-1 last month but succumbed 3-0 last Thursday at Saudi Arabia.

The Republic, second in Group D of the Asian second-round qualifiers with four points, host world No. 88 Uzbekistan at the National Stadium tonight.

Yoshida said: "We can play only defence. We can pack 11 players into our penalty box, and restrict opponents to a 1-0 or 2-0 win. But that is no good for us.

"We must learn and improve. If we don't even try, we have no chance. But if we try, and find a weakness in the opponents, we may have the chance to win. The important thing for me is that we try.

"Saudi Arabia were very good all round and we could not find any weaknesses. Uzbekistan will be more direct and we need to play on the ground, mark tightly, press hard and play quick passes forward to look for opportunities."

While the world No. 157 Lions committed men forward and created several chances to score at the King Abdullah Stadium in Buraidah, this approach left them vulnerable at the back and the Saudis, ranked 70th, could have racked up a bigger scoreline.

They hit the woodwork four times and Abdullah Alhamddan's penalty was saved by Izwan Mahbud.

The Uzbeks have arrived on the back of a 5-0 thrashing of Yemen and seemingly feeling the positive effects of having a new coach in Vadim Abramov, who replaced Hector Cuper after their 2-0 defeat by Palestine last month.

Uzbekistan reserve goalkeeper Abdumavlon Abduljalilov felt his team are liberated by the change, and said: "We were more defensive under Hector when every one in our football community was expecting a more attacking style.

"The change is very welcomed by everyone, the players feel more free and the spirit has changed."

Singapore have faced Uzbekistan only twice before, both in 2008 as part of the World Cup qualifiers. The Lions lost 7-3 at home and 1-0 away in Tashkent.

 

To make the task harder for the home side, they will be without their first-choice full-backs Shakir Hamzah and Zulqarnaen Suzliman who are injured.

Izwan, 29, was undeterred though. He said: "I have played under quite a few national coaches, and every coach wants to win. Compared to 2008, we have different players, a new coach and a new style of play.

"The main difference is coach Tatsuma likes us to play the ball forward with short passes to open up the game, and he wants us to win possession as soon as possible when we lose it.

"He gives us the confidence to play and doesn't make us worry about making mistakes. We have to score to win games and to score, we have to attack. It is up to us to be clever about how we do it."

Tickets available at fas.org.sg/tickets and sportshubtix.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2019, with the headline 'Be ambitious to improve'. Print Edition | Subscribe