Singapore braced for early exit
SINGAPORE coach Richard Tardy fears his side's Sea Games football campaign could be over by Wednesday after being drawn to play Myanmar and hosts Malaysia in their opening two Group A fixtures.
Frenchman Tardy, who lived up to his name by being late to yesterday's pre-tournament press conference in Kuala Lumpur, said Singapore will need to get good results from the opening two matches to keep their semi-final hopes alive.
"There are no positives or negatives, we have to play together as one team," said Tardy of today's opening game against Myanmar at Selayang Stadium and Wednesday's match against Malaysia at Shah Alam Stadium.
"We need good results against these two teams to qualify. Fifty per cent of this squad is under 20-years-old so it's not going to be easy. There is a lot of pressure and too much expectation."
Singapore, who also face Brunei and Laos in two other Group A fixtures, have never won the Sea Games football gold medal and last reached the final in 1989 when they lost 3-1 to Malaysia at Merdeka Stadium.
Tardy's side lost 2-0 to 2015 Sea Games silver medallists Myanmar in an AFC Under-23 Championship qualifier in Yangon last month and were beaten 3-1 by Malaysia at the Dubai Cup in March.
After failing to reach the semifinals on home soil two years ago, another early exit would be unpalatable to Singapore fans.
"I hope we can play good football but it will be difficult," said Tardy, in an irritable mood due to his late arrival.
"We respect all the teams and all can still happen. The first game is very important and after that we will see."
Most of Singapore's squad come from the Young Lions development club which play in the S-League although their most recognisable name is Irfan Fandi, who will be looking to emulate his father Fandi Ahmad, whose goals steered Singapore to the 1989 final.
In explaining his tardiness, Tardy said sarcastically: "Very well organised. I was only told just now there is a press conference."
But Tardy did not say why Singapore's representative was able to attend the team managers' meeting held just before the press conference without hindrance. Devinder Singh
(From left) Indonesia coach Luis Milla, Cambodia coach Leornardo Vittorino, the Philippines coach Marlo Maro, Thailand team manager Matanya Wongo Pasi, Timor Leste assistant coach Eduardo Pereira and Vietnam coach Ngu Yen Hui Thannh at the press conference yesterday.