“It’s not enough, it’s not enough.”
That was the damning verdict given by Singapore national under-23 head coach Richard Tardy after the 1-0 loss to India at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Sunday evening (9 July).
The players that make up the team are expected to go to the SEA Games in August.
While both sides were separated only by an 80th minute strike from India midfielder Germanpreet Singh and only had one shot on target each, the Indians were by far the more dominant and impressive team.
Not only were the visitors the more confident team in possession, they managed to cut open the Singapore defence on numerous occasions.
The Young Lions also appeared to have run out of steam after 75 minutes, while the Indian were still sprinting in the closing stages of the game. India’s coach Stephen Constantine said that his side “looked a bit fitter” after the game.
“We worked quite a bit on fitness. All of my teams, we need to be able to play 90 plus minutes,” Constantine added.
The Young Lions did perform admirably in the first half at the defensive end, when they hardly allow India a sniff a goal apart from Nanda Kumar’s 29th minute shot which skimmed the crossbar.
They even had opportunities, when Ihksan Fandi, one of the four forwards in an attacking line-up put out by Tardy, produced a moment of brilliance to get past his marker before putting in a cross that was nearly turned in by an opponent.
Taufik Suparno, another forward, also spurned two golden opportunities early in the second half, but that was about it.
Even when they were given free-kick opportunities, they hardly did any damage with it.
They were given a warning sign in the 75th minute, when defender Irfan Fandi had to put in a last ditch clearance to prevent India from scoring after the Singapore defence was sliced open easily.
Cruelly, it was to be Irfan who made the mistake that led to India’s goal. Up until then, he had been enjoying a decent outing.
His miscued clearance from a cross saw the ball fall to Germanpreet, who expertly shifted the ball over to his left before curling it into the top corner.
Germanpreet could have added a second right at the death after a mix-up between substitute Amirul Adli and goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad, but he shot inches wide instead.
‘We need to do better’
Tardy stated after the game that he was “not happy with the result” although he was satisfied with how his players did not give up and tried their best to chase the game.
“We tried hard. The players are disappointed but today, we can’t [criticise] about the spirit the players showed from the beginning to the end of the game.”
He did not hold back with his assessment of his side though, and said that there are a number of aspects that they have to work on before the AFC Under-23 Championships qualifiers later this month.
“We need to progress,” Tardy admitted.
“First thing, is to keep the ball better. Defensively we played well in the first half, but to be better defensively, we have to keep more of the ball.
“We don’t keep the ball enough and play the long ball too much. Phyiscially, we lost out a bit and we made a mistake in the goal. In terms of players, we don’t play to defend, but we need to do better when in possession.
“Every time the players are pressured, we don’t have the quality to keep the ball. Two, three passes later, we lose the ball. These are all technical problems.”
On the issue of tiring quicker than India, he said, “When you run after the ball and opponents, you run out of energy. We lost more energy than India, and that’s because they are programmed to keep the ball more.
“That’s why we need to work on our positioning.”
Singapore’s team will have a shot at redeeming themselves when they play India again on Wednesday (12 July), at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium.