Despite a 1-2 loss to Myanmar U23s on Thursday night, Singapore U23s head coach Aide Iskandar refused to blame his players and backed them to come good for the remainder of the group stage.
Although the Singapore U23s are still in the hunt for a Southeast Asian Games semi-final place, tears flowed freely among the despairing players at the final whistle.
The sight of the disconsolate Young Lions trudging off the pitch affirmed their coach Aide Iskandar’s belief of how much they wanted to win in front of an expectant home nation at Jalan Besar Stadium.
“You see the boys crying, you can see how much they want to win,” said the former national captain.
“They are hungry, they want to triumph and do well. The character of the team will surface.”
The teary scenes gave Aide cause to back his team even though he admitted their defending from set-pieces left much to be desired.
“Myanmar did not trouble us with many chances, and (goalkeeper) Syazwan Buhari did not have that much to do,” he said.
“It’s just that we failed to score from open play, and we have to keep working on our finishing. To win games, we need to score. We create chances but did not convert.
“We could have done better defending those two free kicks because they score from there.”
Adam Swandi had another anonymous outing at the Games as he rarely pulled the strings in attack from his favoured playmaker position to trouble the Myanmar defence.
Aide backed the former Metz FC trainee to eventually come good in the tournament as he believed the 19-year-old benefited from the match exposure.
“When he was in France, he did not get many games, so he is getting them now,” he said of his midfielder.
“While he may not have his best game tonight, he contributed enough himself to stay on the pitch throughout.”
Although Aide was satisfied with Irfan Fandi’s 32-minute cameo where the substitute caused trouble to the Myanmar defence with his physique and runs, he cautioned against starting him at the expense of misfiring forward Sahil Suhaimi.
“Irfan is still young and he is not the type to last 90 minutes (in a professional game yet), so we have to take that into consideration,” he said.
“He’s an impact player as each time he comes in, he gives a boost up front. He tried his best, and he had a couple of headers that I believe should have gone in.”
With only a few days’ rest before the Young Lions resume action, Aide called on the squad to regroup and refocus ahead of their do-or-die games against Cambodia and Indonesia.
“The game plan now is to try and win the next two games,” he said.
“I told the boys they gave their best today but were unfortunately not to get any points.
“We come into every game wanting to win. Even if we had won today, we would still need win the next few games to qualify.”comments