Sundram still focused on excellence despite difficult Suzuki Cup draw
The War Elephants are the reigning champions and are ranked top in the region, while Philippines are ranked second and will host Group A.
Sundram acknowledged that Group A contained tough opponents, but he reiterated his desire to focus on preparing his team for the tournament.
“It is an interesting draw for us – Singapore and Thailand are the most successful teams in the history of the AFF Championship. But this group isn’t just about Singapore and Thailand. Co-host Philippines are equally strong and will enjoy home ground support and Indonesia is also a good team,” Sundram said.
My coaches and I will gradually narrow the list of players who will represent our country as we strive to do well in the Suzuki Cup
“Over the next three months, we will continue to strengthen the team as well as individual players through the National Team Training Days. In addition, we will play another six international matches against opponents of varying strengths during the upcoming FIFA international weeks, with one of the aims being to build depth by giving opportunities to young players.
“As we embark on the final phase of preparations for the Suzuki Cup, my coaches and I will gradually narrow the list of players who will represent our country as we strive to do well in the AFF Suzuki Cup 2016.”
Talismanic national striker Khairul Amri too expressed confidence in Singapore’s ability to advance out of Group A.
Amri believed the younger players who experienced the last Suzuki Cup two years ago will be much better equipped to withstand the rigours of the tournament this time around.
“There is little difference in standards among the teams in Southeast Asia today,” Amri said.
“In fact, I believe any of these teams which were drawn into either group earlier today has the ability to win the championship.
“We were very unlucky at the 2014 edition, where we conceded very late penalties against Thailand and Malaysia.
“However, let’s not forget that we had many young players who were then participating in their first international competition, such as Shakir Hamzah, Faris Ramli and Gabriel Quak.
“They have since matured and coupled with other young talents who have progressed through the youth development system, I am confident that our team will put up a good performance at the year-end Suzuki Cup.”