Stange encouraged by strong Lions showing despite loss

Singapore coach Bernd Stange cut a disappointed figure after the narrow World Cup qualifying loss to Syria, but admitted that the performance on the night was a promising sign for the future. 

Oday Al-Jafal netted the only goal of the game as Syria leapfrogged Singapore into first place in Group E, with the Lions staying ahead of Japan on goals scored. 

"We have the right to be disappointed with the result tonight, but we can be very proud of our performance because we tried to get a result till the very last minute," Stange said after the match.

"It was our third straight away game and it was extremely tough. I am proud of how our boys performed, especially in the last 20 minutes.

"They tried everything to get a result. Don’t forget there is a gulf in world rankings between Syria and Singapore (No.121 and No.157 respectively); today we showed we can match such a team, even in a difficult away game.

"We are disappointed of course, because a point today would have been a great achievement for us."

Despite being separated by 36 places in the recently-released FIFA rankings, Singapore's players did not look overawed by the occasion and tested the Syrians whenever they went forward.

It was just not Khairul Amri's day, as the Singapore striker repeatedly found himself in good positions only to be denied by a combination of the woodwork, some misplaced attempts and some dogged defending from the hosts.

"I see the fitness of the team and how they performed till the very last minute – it was a very open game with free kicks, set pieces and missed chances and I think we deserved a little bit more today," Stange said.

"This is a positive thing. It is now no longer a surprise that we drew in Japan. We have conceded just once against Japan and Syria, which shows stability."

The Lions return to Singapore knowing an easier run of fixtures await next as they embark on a stretch of four consecutive home qualifiers in the next two months.

Stange has promised that fans can expect a positive Singapore team for the upcoming matches against Afghanistan, Cambodia, Japan and Syria.

"We have four home games ahead of us now and we will follow our philosophy, continue to play this kind of football, and we will definitely bring Singapore football forward," he said.

"Again, the result was a disappointment but this is a young team and we have to be proud of what we achieved today.

"We do not have the strength to go away to the Middle East or Japan and play attacking football. It would be deadly for us.

"But we will play another style of football at home in Singapore; attacking football, which is our philosophy."

Photo: Football Association of Singapore