SINGAPORE: The depressing statistic for the Singapore national team is clear: Zero wins in all 10 games played so far this year.
For coach V Sundramoorthy, the 2019 Asian Cup qualifier against Bahrain on Tuesday (Nov 14) at the Singapore Sports Hub represents the last chance to break that dismal track record as it is the final international game for the Lions in 2017.
If, however, the Lions fail to win, they would suffer the ignominy of being the first Singapore side to endure a winless year in all competition.
Still, coach Sundram is choosing to focus on the positives – in the last three Asian Cup qualifying games, the Lions have managed to find the back of the net despite not securing a victory.
“We’d love to finish the year with a win. That’ll be great,” said Sundram. “From the way the boys are training and playing in the friendlies, it’s only a matter of time that they get the victory. We’ll try to put in a good performance and win the game.”
He added: “(In) the last three games, we’ve been scoring … Overall, in this tournament, the boys have really performed, especially in those games.
“I believe that moving forward, with the same way we played … we should be getting something out of it.”
A YEAR TO FORGET
Aware of the flak it has been getting this year, the team has been trying hard to reverse its fortunes, according to captain Hariss Harun.
“I think, in terms of results this year … there have been highs and lows,” said the Singapore skipper at a pre-match media conference on Monday. “It doesn’t bode very well for the team, but I think the boys have been taking it positively.
“With every defeat there are boys who’d be demoralised … but we have to pick ourselves up for every new game,” he added. “We cannot dwell on previous matches as we always have to look forward to the next one. It’s pretty much the same for this next game against Bahrain as well.”
According to the skipper, the national team players have been trying to make sense of their dip in fortunes. “Naturally, right after the game it can get quite down and demoralising. But we try to discuss where we can improve,” said Harris.
“We have different characters in the team, but some of the boys ... they’d ask about where they could have done better, right after the game.”
EVERY GAME A “BIG GAME”
Having lost 1-0 at home against Lebanon in an international friendly last Friday, Sundram knows he has his work cut out for him if he wants to secure a win against Bahrain.
“Obviously, Lebanon had a couple of individual players who gave us problems,” he said.
“We need to train the boys to be in good positions and try to limit the damage our opponents could possibly do to our team. We need to handle individual players well, and we have to create opportunities,” added Sundram. “We need to keep creating and the goals will come.”
Bahrain, though, will be in high spirits following their 2-0 friendly win in Hong Kong last week.
Their coach Miroslav Soukup is wary of a possibly resurgent Lions, who will be desperate to notch their first win of the year. The Bahrainis could only manage a 0-0 draw against Singapore in Riffa in March.
“Every game is about our quality and our opponent’s quality but we will see. (Even though) Singapore plays at home, we will be ready,” Soukup said.
“We have watched many Singapore games but ... every game starts off at 0-0. Sometimes you can have only one chance and one shot on-target and you win 1-0,” he added. “Sometimes you can have 25 shots on target and you lose the game. But we really want to qualify for UAE and we want to go for that.
“However, I want to win every game … Even if we’re facing Argentina I’d want to win. This is our goal, and we don’t play the game only for the fun of it."