Singapore vs Cambodia: Can Lions head into the Suzuki Cup with a morale-booster?
The last chance for interim head coach V.Sundramoorthy to test out strategies before the Suzuki Cup
Syria 2-0 Singapore (Friendly)
Hong Kong 2-0 Singapore (Friendly)
Singapore 0-0 Malaysia (Friendly)
Bahrain 3-1 Singapore (Friendly)
Cambodia 2-1 Singapore (Friendly)
Cambodia 3-2 Timor Leste (Friendly)
Brunei 0-3 Cambodia (Friendly)
Cambodia 2-1 Laos (Friendly)
Cambodia 4-0 Sri Lanka (Friendly)
Cambodia 0-2 Hong Kong (Friendly)
It is now or never, quite frankly, for Singapore head coach Sundram to make up his mind and settle on the 23-man squad he is bringing to the AFF Suzuki Cup.
Players who have not convinced Sundram get one last shot to do so, while those who have already secured their place will want to do well in order not to jeopardise their chance of making the trip to Philippines.
The Lions will also want to depart from Singapore on a high, especially after going six games without a win. This is their worst run of form since 2012, when the Republic went eight games without a win.
Their last chance to finally earn a win before the Suzuki Cup though, will come against Cambodia on Sunday — foes Singapore lost 2-1 to in July.
The Cambodians will not take this game lightly, as they too want to show they are not in the Suzuki Cup to make up the numbers, unlike previous years.
Cambodia will have every right to feel confident, especially after beating a Singapore selection side again — albeit behind closed doors — in September.
Word has it that Sundram has trimmed his 30-man squad to 28, with Abdil Qaiyim and Zulfahmi Arifin on the standby list in case of injuries.
Baihakki Khaizan and Daniel Bennett were rested against Syria in Singapore’s last friendly match, while Khairul Amri too did not feature.
However, all three are expected to start against Cambodia. Faris Ramli, another surprise exclusion from the starting line-up too in that game, should be in line for a start.
Key Battle: Chan Vathanaka vs Daniel Bennett
If you had watched the match in July, you would have been impressed with Chan Vathanaka. The speedy forward was a handful for the Lions’ defence and he opened the scoring in the 2-1 defeat of Singapore.
Bennett would most likely be starting in defence and the 38-year-old will not be able to match the forward in terms of pace. But the veteran has rolled back the years to put on one of his best displays in years and much of it has to do with his experience and reading of the game.
Bennett will be out to prove that he is capable of being a starter for Sundram and keeping Vathanaka quiet will greatly help him.
Will Sundram throw caution to the win and deviate away from his conservative style of play in order to get a huge morale-boosting win? One suspects not.
Avoiding a defeat will be his primary objective while testing out players, so expect Sundram still keep things tight at the back and advocate a low tempo game.
Cambodia coach Lee Tae-Hoon has helped the Angkor Warriors shed away their Southeast Asia’s minnows tag and he will be aiming to claim Singapore’s scalp again.
With a relatively young team, Lee will most likely instruct his team to use their youthful energy to their advantage and play a high-pressing game, with hope that such pressure will cause the Lions to commit a mistake or two.
Last Five Meetings
Cambodia 2-1 Singapore (Friendly, July ’16)
Singapore 2-1 Cambodia (WCQ, Oct ’15)
Cambodia 0-4 Singapore (WCQ, June ’15)
Singapore 4-2 Cambodia (Friendly, Nov ‘14)
Singapore 1-0 Cambodia (Friendly, Nov’ 13)
Facts and Figures
Singapore are on their worst run since 2012, when they went eight games without a win.
Cambodia are ranked above Singapore now at no.167, four spots ahead.
Cambodia are on a four-game winning streak, with their last loss being a 2-0 defeat by Hong Kong.
It would be disastrous for Sundram if his side loses to Cambodia again, so he should be very cautious in this game. A 2-1 win seems possible though.