Football: Singapore coach Yoshida promises Lions will improve

Myanmar goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Htet saving a shot from Singapore's Khairul Amri in the dying moments of their friendly match at the National Stadium last night. Kyaw Ko Ko's double sandwiched the equaliser by Gabriel Quak. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Myanmar goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Htet saving a shot from Singapore's Khairul Amri in the dying moments of their friendly match at the National Stadium last night. Kyaw Ko Ko's double sandwiched the equaliser by Gabriel Quak. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Loss down to individual errors but coach heartened by team's motivation and application

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Singapore 1

Myanmar 2

Bob Marley played cheerleader as Singapore's footballers trudged off the National Stadium pitch last night.

"Don't worry about a thing... Every little thing's gonna be alright," crooned the late Jamaican reggae singer over the speakers.

The home fans - who accounted for about half the 5,178 in the stands - might need a little more convincing, after watching Myanmar run out 2-1 winners in an international friendly.

The defeat was the first for new Singapore coach Tatsuma Yoshida in his second game in charge.

The 45-year-old Japanese had taken charge on May 30, and had led the team to a 4-3 win over Solomon Islands last Saturday at the same venue.

Despite the win, the performance against the Pacific Islanders was riddled with stray passes and individual errors that led to goals, and this again occurred against Myanmar.

Kyaw Ko Ko, one of Myanmar's two Thailand-based forwards, was the main benefactor, scoring twice (5th and 67th minutes) off counter-attacks after Singapore lost the ball in their opponents' half.

Gabriel Quak's 25th-minute goal, his second in four days after also scoring against Solomon Islands, could not spark the team to life.

Substitute Khairul Amri had the best chance to grab a late equaliser, but he sent a free header wide nine minutes before the end.

Yoshida admitted he was disappointed with the result, but insisted that he was heartened by his players' performances, even if they still "sometimes switch off".

On the fatal errors, he said he did not want to pick out individual faults, and added he was satisfied by his players' motivated displays and understanding of the type of football he is trying to implement.

"Sometimes they cannot (execute the plan), sometimes can, (but) it's not a problem," said Yoshida.

"If they cannot understand our concept on the pitch, if they are scared, it's a problem. But they played with confidence."

Lions goalkeeper Hassan Sunny felt the team played well, but added: "All teams that try to play (good) football are more vulnerable at the back.

"There will be mistakes, but we have three months to improve (before the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in September).

"We are trying to play better football and it will take time.

"We understand coach Tatsuma and we hope the public will understand too."

Winger Faris Ramli also pledged the team would get better, pointing to how the team have had only four training sessions under Yoshida so far.

"We just need to get used to what coach Tatsuma is trying to implement, the new formation and system, and get better," he said.

"If you look at all the goals we conceded in the last two games, it's the same way.

"We have to buck up as a whole team, and not just one or two individuals."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2019, with the headline 'Yoshida promises Lions will improve'. Print Edition | Subscribe