Singapore U23 coach Aide Iskandar has warned against complacency as the hosts prepare to begin their Southeast Asian Games campaign on Monday.
After months of intensive training, the Singapore U23 team are finally about to face their first test of the Southeast Asian Games.
Monday evening will see the Young Lions take on Philippines in their Group A encounter at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Singapore come into the match brimming with confidence after winning their last three warm-up games against Shizuoka Sangyo University, Laos U23 and Timor Leste U23 in their final phase of preparations.
Head coach Aide Iskandar is keen to see his Young Lions continue their winning form in front of an expected capacity crowd and wants them to take this journey one step at a time.
“In any tournament, every opponent will begin on an equal footing before kickoff, so we have to take one game at a time,” said the former national captain.
The Philippines U23 team are participating in the football event for the first time since 2007 after skipping the previous two editions.
They have four key players unavailable for this tournament due to the upcoming joint World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers in mid-June.
Despite the visitors’ underdog status, Aide has cautioned against complacency as he called on his charges to draw on lessons learnt from the previous Games in Myanmar one-and-a-half years ago.
Sahil Suhaimi opened the scoring midway in the first half against Laos, but the team allowed a late equaliser despite having numerical and tactical superiority for much of the game.
“We don’t want to put ourselves under unnecessary pressure ahead of the second game, like what happened against Laos in the last Games,” said Aide, who was also in charge of the national U23 side then.
“We have to concentrate and focus for the full 90 minutes and ensure we score as many as we can but don’t concede [through sloppy play].”
“The Philippines have nothing to lose, they will come into this match wanting to do well.
“We respect them, but we want to win this match as it is important to create and maintain a good level of confidence for us to excel in the Games.”
Although Singapore are not exactly favourites for the elusive football gold medal, Aide believes this could work to his team’s advantage as he calls on his charges to show the nation what they can do on home soil.
“We don’t have the luxury of star players in the team unlike Thailand and Vietnam, but we have a committed, cohesive and organised unit who want to do well for Singapore,” he said.
“What the fans will like to see, is every player representing Singapore with the determination and passion to play for the country on the pitch.
“We will also like to see our boys scoring and enjoying their football during the Games.”
Photo: Football Association of Singapore