Rufer: Singapore's sweet little boys underestimated us

Papua New Guinea coach Wynton Rufer felt that Singapore had underestimated his team as PNG put on a valiant display in a 2-1 loss to the hosts at Hougang Stadium on Saturday night.

Despite not playing a competitive game for nearly two years, Papua New Guinea gave Singapore a run for their money as they held on to a narrow defeat.

Despite conceding twice in the first 23 minutes, the Kapuls pulled one back after the hour mark and set the stage for a nervy finish.

Speaking to assembled media after the game, Rufer certainly did not mince his words when asked for his assessment of the Singapore National Team.

“Your guys clearly underestimated our guys,” the former Werder Bremen forward said.

“I know the Asian mentality. It’s actually similar to our Pacific Islands’ mentality; being lovely sweet little soft boys. That’s why I’ve building my boys up to be aggressive like animals.”

While labelling the two goals which his side conceded ‘soft’, Rufer was generally pleased with how his side fared against the Lions, who are 48 places above them in the FIFA rankings.

“We literally gifted the first goal,” the 51-year-old said.

“We lost the ball in midfield and three of my grandmothers were just watching your guys dribble through and shoot on goal.

“The second goal was soft as well, thus you could easily lose confidence and fall away.

“But we have got good spirit and I told them to keep going; we knocked the ball down and closed the space of your strikers.

“The Singapore boys were probably worried after that and we took advantage of it. Thus it was enjoyable today although we lost.”

Rufer is optimistic that his team’s display can help secure more funding from the PNG Football Association ahead of next year’s Pacific Games, as well as convincing quality opponents to play them.

“The pressure which we had was that we had to get some sort of result to get more government funding,” he said.  

“We were freaking out on the bench (when it was at 2-0) and it could have been three to four goals. Now we’re pretty confident that the PNG government can give us some decent money.

“My friend is Thomas Dooley, the coach of the Philippines while the Hong Kong team is coming down here soon.

“Now we only lost 2-1 here, hopefully they’ll know that we’re a solid team and could be happy to play us.”

Image Credit: Abel Khoo/Football Association of Singapore