Sin­ga­pore braced for early exit

New Straits Times - - Sport -

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

PIC BY NUR ADIBAH AH­MAD IZAM

(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.

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