Hughes aware Singapore side can give Stoke a fright

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes.
Stoke City manager Mark Hughes.PHOTO: AFP

Although they were crushed 4-0 by Arsenal in their opening Barclays Asia Trophy match, the Singapore Selection's gutsy display earned them admirers, including English Premier League managers.

On Wednesday, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger labelled V. Sundramoorthy's men "electric" and, similarly, Stoke City's Mark Hughes heaped praise on the hosts.

The Potters will meet the Singapore side tonight at the National Stadium to battle for third place and Hughes is aware of what Sundram's men can do.

The Welshman said yesterday: "I watched the opening period (of the game against Arsenal). They were very bright with their movement, their thinking. Their technique is very good. They have a good understanding and play at a high tempo. It was quite a challenge for Arsenal.

"In the second half, Singapore put on a number of players. That took the sting out of them. But they showed that they want their place amongst us."

Stoke have both steel and skill to take on the hosts. They can play direct through the dead-ball delivery of midfielder Charlie Adam to target man Peter Crouch and they have refinement through the technique of attackers Bojan Krkic and Marco van Ginkel.

But it is the aerial bombardment that Sundram is wary of. The 49-year-old coach said: "They are a physical and hard-running team so we expect a hard game tomorrow.

"They have great players like Crouch and (Marko) Arnautovic is excellent as well so we need to be careful and limit the time and space they have."

Sundram has also detailed centre-back Baihakki Khaizan, who stands at 1.9m, to man-mark the 2.03m-tall Crouch at set-pieces.

But, apart from defending well against Stoke, what Sundram wants is a goal against the EPL side to ignite the Kallang Roar.

He said: "Just like how we tried to get at Arsenal on the counter, we will do the same against Stoke and, in that sense, (Khairul) Amri will be very important. He must hold the ball up when needed.

"Our intention is, of course, to score. I would love it if we can score a goal to make Kallang erupt once again."

3rd placing, Stoke v S'pore Selection: Singtel TV Ch102 & StarHub Ch227, 6pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 18, 2015, with the headline 'Hughes aware Singapore side can give Stoke a fright'. Print Edition | Subscribe