Stange defends selection policy

Singapore coach Bernd Stange remained defiant after Saturday night's loss to Malaysia, a result that sent the AFF Suzuki Cup defending champions crashing out of the group stages.

Singapore were knocked out of the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup after a cruel 3-1 defeat to rivals Malaysia, in a game that will be remembered for a controversial penalty in stoppage time.

Despite the defeat, a dejected Bernd Stange defended his choice of players for the tournament and vowed to stick by his philosophy.

“Tonight there is a deep disappointment and we are all empty at this moment but I think we should take the right conclusions for our future here in Singapore,” Stange said.

“It’s a young team with a bright future. Six, seven, maybe eight players can play in next year’s SEA games and we are looking forward to play in the next campaign.”

There was criticism from some quarters with Stange failing to call up seasoned veterans like Daniel Bennett and Fahrudin Mustafic but Stange was adamant that he had made the right call in omitting them in favour of younger players.

“The game is faster and faster. You see teams like Vietnam and Thailand, how quick and fast they are,” he said.

“I personally believe it’s a young man’s game and there is no reason to take more players deep into their 30s.”

The 66-year-old handed starts to Fazrul Nawaz and Shahfiq Ghani against Malaysia in the hopes of a telling contribution from the duo but both players failed to live up to expectations and were duly substituted in the second half.

When it was suggested that most players failed to deliver, Stange maintained he had chosen the best players available.

“The national team should have the best players of our country,” he said.

“There might be a chance we overlooked one or two players but I think we chose the best of Singapore.

“There are not many players left where you can say you oversaw a player who can win this tournament for us.”

With a failure to advance from the group stages of the tournament, Stange will come under intense pressure but as far as the Lions coach is concerned, all he needs is time.

“We changed our style to play football according to the international tendency [to pass and move the ball around quickly]. It takes time to adapt to this kind of football.”

Photo: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo