'We must work on finishing'

Winger Gabriel Quak celebrates after scoring the second goal in Singapore's 2-0 friendly win over Mongolia at Bishan Stadium last night. The win maintained the Lions' unbeaten run under interim national coach Fandi Ahmad after three games.
Winger Gabriel Quak celebrates after scoring the second goal in Singapore's 2-0 friendly win over Mongolia at Bishan Stadium last night. The win maintained the Lions' unbeaten run under interim national coach Fandi Ahmad after three games.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Coach Fandi satisfied with win but calls for improvement, singles out Quak for praise

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Singapore 2

Mongolia 0


The national football team are on a run of three games without defeat under Fandi Ahmad and what is becoming apparent is that the interim national coach's blueprint will be based on tactical discipline sprinkled with a generous splash of grit.

Last night, the Lions defeated Mongolia 2-0 in an international friendly after a 1-1 draw with Mauritius and a 2-0 win over Fiji last month.

On a rain-soaked Bishan Stadium pitch, attacking football was at a premium and Singapore had to rely on hard work to grind down their opponents from the North Asian steppes.

Fandi said: "I am quite satisfied with the performance.

  • 3

    Goals Gabriel Quak has scored for Singapore.

"We started poorly with poor back-passes, which are very dangerous in the middle of the pitch, but the players redeemed themselves later.

"The boys stood up well against a physical side, but we still need to polish our finishing."

After an evenly-matched and goal-less first half, played in front of an estimated crowd of 2,000, the Lions came to life in the 71st minute when a set piece paid off.

An Izzdin Shafiq free kick to the far post was nodded back by Safuwan Baharudin only for Mongolian goalkeeper Enkhtaivan Munkh-Erdene to parry the ball to Hariss Harun , who volleyed home.

Nine minutes later, as Shakir Hamzah stormed forward, the left-back lost control of the ball on the edge of Mongolia's box, but the onrushing Gabriel Quak was alert and lobbed the stranded goalkeeper from 25 metres for his third international goal.

 
 
 

Fandi praised the winger's performance, saying: "Gabriel did very well, he was very mobile, lively and creative.

"Previously, when he goes (to attack), we must cover his back as we don't want to leave gaps behind. But he has done that (covering the gaps) very well today."

However, Mongolia coach Michael Weiss was not impressed by the Lions.

The German said: "Singapore are physically strong but, tactically, there is big space for improvement.

"I would expect more combination play and creativity from them. The goals were gifts from our side.

"The Singapore players are very physical, but it doesn't help you much at a much higher level.

"They looked vulnerable and shaky in their build-up and, if only I have five or six more good players, I could have pressed them."

Fandi was given the reins in May, tasked to lead the Republic at next month's Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.

The Lions are grouped alongside defending champions Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Timor-Leste.

He does have a few attackers in Quak, Khairul Amri and Faris Ramli, who are capable of moments of magic but he admits that when the going gets tough at the AFF Cup, Singapore will need some good old-fashioned fortitude to weather the storm.

Fandi said: "It's all about tactical discipline and this is our strength.

"Other countries may be ahead of us now, but our main quality is our teamwork."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2018, with the headline ''We must work on finishing''. Print Edition | Subscribe