Stange optimistic ahead of final warm up games

Singapore head coach Bernd Stange has tipped his charges to bounce back from their recent poor form in the run up to the AFF Suzuki Cup tournament start in just over a week.

The Suzuki Cup defending champions will play two final warm up games, tonight against Laos and on Monday, November 17 against Cambodia.

It appears that the provisional 35-man squad has already been cut down somewhat though, with only 24 players turning up at Yishun Stadium for training on Wednesday evening.

I have to be optimistic because we have a group of good young strikers and they all can score goals and they all delivered in S.League and Malaysia league

- Bernd Stange

Stange, who is heading into his first Suzuki Cup tournament, will need to trim it down to 22 by next week and wants his charges to be confident against Laos and Cambodia.

“We have two matches and we are very happy to play at home after so many away matches,” he said.

“We are quite optimistic and we need this optimism because we want to make two good results.

“Confidence is growing with results – and we should try to make two results against a strong team from Laos and Cambodia as well.

“If you feel the spirit in the team, I think I have nothing to say. It’s really good if you see how they were.

“We should win, it’s our home games and we should try to win these games.”

Results this year have been far from ideal for the Lions, as they have won just once in eight games while shipping in 17 goals with only one clean sheet kept.

Those results include a 2-2 draw with minnows Macau despite holding a two-goal lead.

Yet it appears an unruffled Stange is not worried by the poor form of late, as he backed his charges to show improvement in the final two games against Laos and Cambodia.

“I have to be optimistic because we have a group of good young strikers and they all can score goals and they all delivered in S.League and Malaysia league,” he said.

“We are one team and defending mistakes are results of the defending attitude of the team.

“We allowed too many easy goals and we have to improve especially when we are playing at home.

“If we allow a goal we have to score two to win and it’s going to be difficult.

“[I want to see us] play attacking football, combination football, not kicking long balls, keeping possession and [launch] three, four or five counter attacks to win the game.

“It’s not easy because Laos is a good team.”

Southeast Asian teams still far behind the competition - Stange

The German coach did point out that Singapore could expect easier opponents than Bahrain, who they lost to earlier this month.

 “You know, the level we are used to playing here is not the level where our previous opponents are resting [in the rankings] permanently,” Stange said.

“If you play in Middle East or Europe and when they play a weak team, they put you permanently under pressure. And you have to find a way to keep possession.

“We are not prepared for them at the stage we are playing at Southeast Asia – it is not only our problem in Singapore, it's a problem for all our (ASEAN) teams.

“We are still far away in this department and it takes time to improve that.

“It’s very difficult to deliver such unique confidence and performance and we are going to improve this part.”