Lions must take chances

The Lions will be counting on Khairul Nizam (left) and Khairul Amri to deliver the goods as the only two natural forwards called up to the squad.
The Lions will be counting on Khairul Nizam (left) and Khairul Amri to deliver the goods as the only two natural forwards called up to the squad.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Goal-shy Singapore will have to be more ruthless up front, with three games in quick succession

Singapore have had a miserly record in the goals department in recent times.

The Lions have managed only six goals since national coach V. Sundram Moorthy took charge 13 games ago.

Of these, only two were scored by a striker - veteran Khairul Amri.

The "drought" has not gone unnoticed and ahead of their games against Myanmar (tonight), Chinese Taipei (Saturday) and world No. 2 Argentina (next Tuesday), Lions striker Khairul Nizam acknowledged that Singapore's strike force needs to step up.

"Right now, I'm just focusing on what coach needs for the team, (but) the pressure is on the strikers to score," said Nizam, 25, who heads into the three-game stretch looking to break his international duck after 18 caps.

"Hopefully someone can do it, it doesn't matter who."

But winger Faris Ramli, the S-League's current form player with 11 goals and 12 assists for Home United so far, was more optimistic.

"We need goal-scoring right now, and the form we are in has come at the right time," said Faris, 24.

"It's not only me, but many of the other players as well."

But he did issue the caveat that club form may not necessarily be replicated at the international level, as tactics and coaching systems will differ.

Said Faris: "Before the game, we need to understand coach's (Sundram's) instructions and work things out together."

Sundram remained tight-lipped about the specific nature of those instructions, only saying that the Lions would "play to our attacking strengths against Myanmar and Chinese Taipei".

He also defended his decision to call up just two strikers - Amri and Nizam - for the three upcoming games.

"We have Safuwan (Baharudin) and Shahril (Ishak) who can also play (as) striker," he said.

The Lions' friendly against Myanmar will be a closed-door affair.

Of the three games, only the match against Chinese Taipei - a 2019 Asian Cup Group E qualifying tie - bears any significance.

Singapore currently sit second in the four-team group after a goal-less draw against Bahrain.

Turkmenistan are top after beating Chinese Taipei in their first game. Both matches will be played at the Jalan Besar stadium.

After playing the two Asian sides, the Lions host Lionel Messi and co. in an 'A' international friendly on June 13 at the National Stadium.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 06, 2017, with the headline 'Lions must take chances'. Print Edition | Subscribe