Football: Lions coach Tatsuma Yoshida cool over mixed reactions to narrow win over Solomon Islands

Lions coach Tatsuma Yoshida rated his charges' performance against the Solomon Islands a "six or seven" out of 10.
Lions coach Tatsuma Yoshida rated his charges' performance against the Solomon Islands a "six or seven" out of 10.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - New Singapore football head coach Tatsuma Yoshida led the Lions to a 4-3 victory over a Solomon Islands team ranked 21 places higher than them in his first game in charge last Saturday (June 8), but the result was not wildly celebrated by all.

Online, some local fans criticised the team's stray passing, errors that led to the Solomon Islands' goals, as well as the margin of victory over a team they perceived lacked quality, despite the higher world ranking (139 to Singapore's 160).

Yoshida, however, was unperturbed when The Straits Times asked him on Monday (June 10) if he was surprised by such a reaction to a win.

"No," said the Japanese coach, who took charge of the Lions only on May 30.

"Fans, always, when there's a goal (cheer), and when you concede (jeer)," he said.

"All over the world, that's football. In Myanmar, Spain, Brazil, Japan, it's the same.

"No worry. We trust ourselves, no problem."

He added: "Three goals? It's okay. If (we conceded) 10, it's a problem.

"Solomon Islands played well, and both teams wanted to win. So we try to improve together."


Yoshida, who turned 45 on Sunday, was speaking at a press conference at the Peninsula Exelsior Hotel, ahead of his second game in charge of the Lions, against Myanmar at the National Stadium on Tuesday.

Despite calling the win over the Solomon Islands a good result and positive start, the former J-League coach rated his charges' performance a "six or seven" out of 10, and said he hoped for further improvement against Myanmar.

"It has been good, but we need more training (sessions), and we need more time," he said.

Midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin, deployed in a new left-sided defensive role by Yoshida, said it was "exciting" for the players to try make a transition to a new style of play.

"It's not easy but I think we are adapting quite well," said the 27-year-old. "In the last game, we feel we have improved in our confidence in keeping the ball, interchanging positions... so I think it's good progress and a positive sign."

A win over Myanmar - ranked 140th - would improve Singapore's ranking and secure a better seeding for the World Cup qualifiers in July.

Despite being above Singapore in the world standings, Myanmar have not had much joy over the last year.

In that time, they have played nine matches, losing five and winning just twice - against regional minnows Cambodia and Laos in the AFF Suzuki Cup last November - and have failed to score in over 360 minutes of play.

But in Thailand-based forwards Kyaw Ko Ko and Aung Thu, they have players who can hurt Singapore.

Myanmar coach Miodrag Radulovic, appointed in April and taking charge of his first game, noted Singapore's good results this year - wins over Malaysia and the Solomon Islands, and a 1-1 draw with 90th-ranked Oman in regulation time, before losing on penalties - and said the rankings are "sometimes not reality".

"I know Singapore very well because in November 2017, when I was in charge of the Lebanon national team, we played a friendly (which Lebanon won 1-0)," said the 51-year-old Montenegrin coach.

"I like to play with possession and attacking football, but philosophy is one thing, and game strategy is another, and we can't play the same against every opponent.

"We know how (Singapore) play, we know they are dangerous, but we will try to create chances and score goals."