Aide defends Sahil form amidst criticism

Singapore Under-23s head coach Aide Iskandar backed his under-fire striker and took heart from the strong character his men showed in the 3-1 win over Cambodia going forward.

The former Singapore defender was particularly pleased with how his chief striker Sahil Suhaimi responded to criticism with a well-taken goal before full-time.

Before the clash with Cambodia, the LionsXII forward had failed to find the net against the Philippines and Myanmar despite having numerous chances to score.

“It’s a big relief for us, and I am happy for Sahil in particular, who had been getting a lot of criticism in the past few games,” Aide told a post-match press conference.

“In fact, before the game, I told Sahil that he would score tonight and needed to be patient. He got that chance and scored.

“He did not score in the last two games, but we cannot fault his performances. In a normal game he would have finished, so the last goal was clinical from him and that calmed our nerves.”

Aide also had positive words for Sahil’s strike partner Irfan Fandi, who made his first start of the tournament and contributed an assist for Faris Ramli to score just before half time.

“Irfan gave a lot of problems to the Cambodian defence,” he said. “I am pleased that his game is improving, especially with his runs, and the cross for the second goal.”

The Singapore Under-23 team have been turning their practice of scoring late goals at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games into an art form.

All their five goals scored in this campaign so far came within the last five minutes of each half, with Monday night’s 3-1 win over Cambodia’s U-23s no exception.

But while their latest performance had been far from their best, head coach Aide Iskandar believes he is witnessing the beginnings of a collective competitive streak in his Young Lions.

“It is important to have that kind of spirit, scoring late in each half,” he continued.

“We did not give up and kept on pushing. The boys have strong characters and they showed how much they wanted to win.”

Looking ahead to Thursday’s final do-or-die Group A match against Indonesia, arguably their sternest test at the games to date, Aide acknowledged there were still issues in the team to be dealt with.

“A lot of our passes can be better, and with a lot of chances we created, we should have converted one or two more to increase the lead against Cambodia,” he concluded.

“A win is still a win, and we’ll take these three points. Hopefully this win will be a good morale booster ahead of Indonesia.”

Image credit: Stefanus Ian/FourFourTwo