Singapore U23 head coach Aide Iskandar wants his team to build upon their SEA Games win against the Philippines in Monday night's opening fixture.
The Young Lions dominated possession at Jalan Besar Stadium, but laboured to a narrow 1-0 victory after failing to convert most of their chances.
Sheikh Abdul Hadi's first-half header was the difference between the two sides in the end, as Singapore grabbed all three points on offer.
Head coach Aide Iskandar felt it was better for his Young Lions to get off to a slow start in the opener and aim for subsequent improved showings rather than fade away after an impressive performance.
“I can use the lacklustre start to tell my boys that we should improve game by game as the tournament progresses,” he said.
“Because what if the boys win big, 5-0, 6-0 tonight instead, then there is every chance they could get complacent.”
The former national captain admitted it was tough watching from the bench as the hosts squandered several chances as the Philippines restricted them to a slender victory.
“The Philippines came with a game plan and they were resilient in their approach,” he said.
“I have to give credit to them because it is never easy to play against a team that will defend most of the time and make things difficult for us.”
LionsXII duo Faris Ramli and Sahil Suhaimi produced sub-par displays as they were unable to replicate their Malaysia FA Cup heroics in front of a capacity Jalan Besar crowd.
Faris was a pale shadow of himself as he rarely threatened in the final third, while Sahil missed a number of good chances to extend the lead.
Aide defended the duo as he believed they were working for the team but were unable to perform to their usual standards.
“It’s difficult to compare (between playing in the Malaysia FA Cup final and the SEA Games), but give them credit, they are trying their best,” he said.
“It’s never easy after the FA Cup and they are working to reproduce that form. Sahil tried but missed at least two great chances to score.”
Despite failing to add to Hadi’s goal, the Singapore coach was content his charges came away with the all-important three points, the first time they have done so in an opening match since 2001.
“We learned from our 2013 SEA Games campaign where we drew in the first game (against Laos), so we are pleased to get three points, which is very important,” he said.
“To be fair, we created plenty of chances but could have converted more, so this is one area we are going to work on.
“After the first game, we can calm our nerves and approach our second game (against Myanmar) with more confidence.”
Photo: Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee/ Action Images via Reuterscomments