Singapore assistant coach Aide Iskandar felt the goalless draw against Hong Kong at Hougang Stadium last night was a timely reminder to the Lions not to take things for granted ahead of their Asian Games football campaign in South Korea later this month.
While the Lions had a much-improved second half showing, poor finishing and an absence of a midfield fulcrum in the first-half have given him and the coaching staff much food for thought ahead of their group matches against Tajikistan, Oman and Palestine.
“We are going there (to the Asian Games) knowing we need to improve in (areas such as) finishing,” Aide said at the post-match press conference last night.
“It is timely that we peak slowly instead of going there overconfident. At half-time, I told them to get a grip in midfield because Hong Kong was muscling us there in the first half.
“(In the second half) we dominated and created chances. We should have scored one from our chances there.”
Aide, who was standing in for the ill Bernd Stange in the two-match friendly series at Hougang, also indicated those who featured in the matches will also be entrusted to deliver against tougher opposition in Incheon.
He admitted he had not risked young midfielder Adam Swandi, one of the handful who were named on the bench for both matches but did not come on, for that same reason.
“Those players who played have games under their belts,” he said.
“Adam didn’t play because he’s just came back from Metz. We (will) place him into the team progressively.
“We don’t want to kill him because he hasn’t been playing any games and the friendly internationals against Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong are not easy games. We want to ensure we can field the best players available.”
The former national defender also indicated that he would be checking up on several players before making a final decision on his Asian Games team before their departure on Thursday.
He admitted the Football Association of Singapore was still awaiting a favourable reply on the release of Hariss Harun from Malaysian champions Johor Darul Ta’zim as one of the three players above 23 in this tournament, even though the prospect now seems remote.
With regular left-back Shakir Hamzah a major doubt following his injury, Afiq Yunos could be drafted in to fill in that spot as the final overage player after skipper Hassan Sunny and Baihakki Khizan should Hariss not be released.
“Afiq wasn’t playing in a new position as a left back as he had previously played there (under former national coach Radjoko Avramovic),” Aide explained.
“With Shakir injured, we need a left-footer who can play in that role and Afiq put in a good performance against Hong Kong.”
Photo: Alfie Lee/Football Association of Singapore