We trust ourselves: Yoshida

Lions coach Tatsuma Yoshida giving his players instructions during their training session at the National Stadium yesterday, ahead of the friendly against Myanmar.
Lions coach Tatsuma Yoshida giving his players instructions during their training session at the National Stadium yesterday, ahead of the friendly against Myanmar.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

New Lions coach not bothered by early criticism and wants to build on decent start against Myanmar

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, 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 yesterday if he was surprised by such reactions.

"No," said the Japanese coach, who took charge of the Lions on May 30. "Fans, always, when there's a goal (cheer), and when you concede (jeer).

"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.

NO CAUSE FOR CONCERN

Fans, always, when there's a goal (cheer), and when you concede (jeer). All over the world, that's football. In Myanmar, Spain, Brazil, Japan, it's the same. No worry. We trust ourselves, no problem. Three goals? It's okay. If (we conceded) 10, it's a problem.

TATSUMA YOSHIDA, Singapore national football coach, brushing off detractors' comments on the team's narrow 4-3 win over the Solomon Islands in his first game at the helm.

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

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

"It has been good, but we need more training (sessions), and we need more time," said Yoshida, who turned 45 last Sunday.

Midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin, 27, deployed in a new left-sided defensive role by Yoshida, said it was "exciting" for the players to try to make a transition to a new style of play.

"It's not easy but I think we are adapting quite well," he said. "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 for the draw of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers next month.

Despite being ranked well above the Lions, Myanmar have not had much joy over the past 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.

Coach Miodrag Radulovic, taking charge of his first game since his appointed in April, noted Singapore's good results this year - including a 1-0 win over Malaysia 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.

"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."


SINGAPORE V MYANMAR

Singtel TV Ch111, 7.40pm


•Tickets are available at NationalStadium or online via fas.org.sg/tickets

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2019, with the headline 'We trust ourselves: Yoshida'. Print Edition | Subscribe