Narrow victory for sloppy Lions

Singapore forward Gabriel Quak celebrating with Faris Ramli after he scored the Lions' third goal against the Solomon Islands in the friendly match at the National Stadium last night. Faris had scored the first goal in the fourth minute.
Singapore forward Gabriel Quak celebrating with Faris Ramli after he scored the Lions' third goal against the Solomon Islands in the friendly match at the National Stadium last night. Faris had scored the first goal in the fourth minute.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Coach Yoshida rates his debut a 6 or 7; S'pore need to improve before Myanmar on Tuesday

FRIENDLY

Singapore 4

Solomon Islands 3

If the main aim of Singapore's international friendly against Solomon Islands last night was to ensure their new coach Tatsuma Yoshida started his tenure with a win, the Lions got the job done.

Barely, though, with a 4-3 win at the National Stadium.

But, if the larger objective was to get the Lions to play possession-based attacking football, Yoshida knows he has a lot of work to do after celebrating his 45th birthday today, as he rated the Lions' performance a "six or seven out of 10".

To be fair, the Japanese tactician was appointed only on May 30 and had just four training sessions.

He said: "It is a good result and a positive start. Our boys played a little nervously, made some mistakes, and we have to improve on some things, but they showed good attitude.

NERVY START

Our boys played a little nervously, made some mistakes, and we have to improve on some things, but they showed good attitude... I'm used to seeing players who train well but become nervous in games.

TATSUMA YOSHIDA, national coach, after his first game in charge of Singapore.

"We couldn't control the play and couldn't stop the opponents' attack in midfield, and we panicked a little. We didn't interchange well and we need to learn to hold our defence first.

"I'm used to seeing players who train well but become nervous in games. These are things we cannot improve on in one or two days but I trust my players."

Singapore, who started off with a 4-1-4-1 formation, got off to a flyer in front of around 1,500 fans when Faris Ramli headed home Shahdan Sulaiman's cross in the fourth minute.

But Singapore strangely sat back after the bright start, as both sides lacked ideas and urgency.

The Solomon Islands looked the likelier team to score towards the end of the half as Izwan Mahbud had to be alert to thwart Joses Nawo twice in two minutes.

The Lions failed to heed the warning signs and were made to pay just three minutes after the restart when Feni Gagame grabbed the equaliser.

Singapore's sloppiness in possession allowed the visitors to score in the 58th and 75th minutes, through Andrew Abba and Benjamin Totori respectively.

But Yoshida's men fought back each time they went behind, equalising twice through Shahdan Sulaiman's free kick in the 68th minute, and Quak's finish off substitute Khairul Amri's pass in the 77th minute.

Singapore captain Hariss Harun, whose sloppy back pass in the 78th minute resulted in Izwan being stretchered off after clashing into Nawo, made amends in the 86th minute by slotting home the winner from point-blank range after Solomon Islands goalkeeper Philip Mango dropped Quak's corner kick.

While the 28-year-old, with 10 international goals, was pleased with how the team fought back, Hariss called for a better showing against Myanmar on Tuesday.

He said: "It is important we got the win. We did it the hard way, which is not ideal. We have to work on controlling the game better. I think it was a case of being comfortable and overconfident after the early goal and we were punished.

"The boys enjoy playing such attacking football but we need to remember our defensive responsibilities too, so tonight was a good lesson we have to learn from."

Solomon Islands coach Wim Rijsbergen said: "We gave a couple of goals away and allowed Singapore back into the game. We have guys who come from very low standards and we have to learn in international football, every mistake can lead to a goal."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 09, 2019, with the headline 'Narrow victory for sloppy Lions'. Print Edition | Subscribe