AFF Suzuki Cup 2018

Fandi calls for goal fest

Singapore need goals against Timor-Leste tonight and their line-up will feature both Ikhsan Fandi (left) and Khairul Amri up front.
Singapore need goals against Timor-Leste tonight and their line-up will feature both Ikhsan Fandi (left) and Khairul Amri up front.ST PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Semis spot still in the balance, so coach wants Lions to boost tally by whipping Timor-Leste

Four goals. That is the wish of interim national coach Fandi Ahmad as Singapore face Timor-Leste tonight in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.

Scoring has been a problem for the Lions but with a semi-final place on the line, he is calling on his players to bulge the net repeatedly at the National Stadium.

"In our heart, we want to score at least four goals," he said yesterday. "It's not impossible.

"This game is a do-or-die mission and we need to win big."

Singapore are third in Group B with three points from two games (beating Indonesia 1-0 and losing to the Philippines by the same score) with a goal difference of zero.

Thailand are in pole position with a maximum six points from two games, ahead of the Philippines on goal difference (+9 versus +2).

"(Winning) 1-0 or 2-0 doesn't help us," the 56-year-old conceded.

"The advantage will still be with the Philippines. We've still got to hope that Indonesia beat them (on Nov 25), that's the calculation."

Hence, the Lions are targeting a big win over the Timorese and will attempt to get a decent result in Bangkok's Rajamangala Stadium on Sunday to seal qualification.

In the search for goals, Fandi has tweaked the Lions' line-up, abandoning the 4-2-3-1 formation for a 4-4-2 that sees Khairul Amri partnering Ikhsan Fandi up front.

Timor-Leste began their campaign on a disastrous note, losing 7-0 to Thailand. But Norio Tsukitate's men have improved steadily even if they have failed to score a point after defeats by Indonesia (1-3) and the Philippines (2-3).

FOUR WOULD BE FAB

We want to score at least four goals. It's not impossible... This game is a do-or-die mission and we need to win big.

FANDI AHMAD , interim Singapore coach, outlining his game plan against Timor-Leste.

Japanese tactician Tsukitate, a former coach of J-League club Nagoya Grampus Eight, did not give away much at yesterday's pre-match press conference, saying: "I have no idea (of how Singapore play) but we have to play 100 per cent. We cannot think about the opponent but I know my players will do their best."

The Lions, ranked 165th in the world, know the Timorese are no pushovers even if they are the lowest-ranked team (No. 191) in the tournament.

Former national striker Noh Alam Shah, now a player-mentor in the Singapore squad, likened their players to "freedom fighters".

He said: "They will attack without thinking about what happens at the back. Thailand proved that they can score many goals by soaking up the pressure, inviting them forward and penetrating with direct balls over their defence. We have to learn from the Thais.

"The alternative is to stretch them. Our midfielders have to be more adventurous and try to take shots from outside the box. We have one of the best backlines and goalkeeper of this tournament so our goal is well-protected."

Izzdin Shafiq added that along with skipper Hariss Harun, the midfielders have been working on their long-distance piledrivers.

The 27-year-old said: "The important thing is that if we don't practise, we will not apply it in matches."

And Fandi is counting on the new strike partnership to deliver for Singapore. He said: "Both (Amri and Ikhsan) must understand each other and adapt. It's important that they have eye contact and know what each other is going to do.

"They will need to help each other and hopefully, they will combine and do some magic."


SINGAPORE V TIMOR-LESTE

Mediacorp okto, 7.20pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2018, with the headline 'Fandi calls for goal fest'. Print Edition | Subscribe