Despite a 4-2 win over Cambodia last night, Singapore coach Bernd Stange made it known that he was unhappy with his side’s poor defending in the first half.
The defending ASEAN Champions conceded twice in three minutes just before the half-hour mark, each time losing their lead.
Any fears of a shock defeat were allayed though, as Singapore surged ahead for good through Shahril Ishak and Safuwan Baharudin thereafter to round off the thrilling win.
“I have to admit the first half today was only for spectators,” he said at the post-match press conference last night.
“It’s attractive and attracts fans to see six goals for five Singapore dollars but that’s absolutely nothing for the coaches. To allow two goals from only four clear chances is a matter which we have to correct.”
Cambodian forward Khuon Laburavy twice broke free inside the box to level matters for the visitors, something which Stange attributed to Hariss Harun and Shahdan Sulaiman giving too much space for midfielder Sos Suhana to wreak havoc.
“Both defensive midfielders gave [Cambodia’s] No. 12 too much space,” analysed the German coach, who had also slammed Baihakki Khaizan for his fault in the 2-2 draw with Macau.
“They had too much space to move play around in the middle and the defenders could not do anything. We corrected that immediately at half time so we don’t go doing that against Thailand as well, and it worked. In the second half, there were zero chances for Cambodia. Zero.
“That’s what we need at the tournament – a better defence than attack.”
The profligate Lions had a glut of opportunities to add more goals in the second half but were unable to build on their lead as Stange lamented the poor pitch conditions at Yishun Stadium.
“The players were constantly complaining about the pitch,” said the 66-year-old.
“But I’m not God, I cannot stop the rain in Yishun. We could not find another pitch. What can we do? We have to adapt and make results.
“It [the conditions] was adverse and very difficult in the mud where they slipped about. Normally, we’re capable of getting a goal with our first touch but this time always had to take one touch first to control. By then, it’s too late. Cambodia always stuck one foot in the way and then it was not possible to score.
“It’s not an excuse; I hate excuses but if you play football and you have this kind of pitch, it’s very difficult.”
With the clock ticking down towards the AFF Suzuki Cup opener against Thailand, Stange nevertheless believes his side are well prepared for their title defence.
“We had two comfortable wins in a row [against Laos and Cambodia] and it gives us a lot of confidence to prepare in,” said the German.
“We’ll be in a good mood for the next four to five days [before the game]. Now we should forget everything else and focus on our preparations, but otherwise we’re ready to go.”
Photo credit: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwocomments