Bold Lions sending one strong message
centre-back Irfan Fandi.
It appears Singapore are now in a brave new world, instead of being shackled by the tentative tactics of the past.
With the Lions extending their unbeaten run to five international games and winning streak to four – their longest since they won nine on the trot from 2004 to 2005 – it is clear that there is now a high level of trust between coach and players.
The three points have raised spirits ahead of equally vital Group B clashes in the Philippines (Tuesday) and Thailand (Nov 25) which sandwich the next home game against Timor Leste (Nov 21).
But the bonus was the manner in which Singapore won – they took the game to the speedier and technically superior Indonesians when the opportunity arose, but also remained organised and disciplined in defence in front of 30,783 fans at the National Stadium.
And true to the #onestrong hashtag the Football Association of Singapore created for this campaign, the Lions look like a united family on and off the pitch.
Veteran Baihakki Khaizan was seen giving Irfan, his successor in defence, a pep talk on the pitch at half-time. Ikhsan, 19, helped fellow forward Faris Ramli up, who was on his knees after seeing his lob bounce off the bar in the second half.
Even the usually reticent assistant coach and former international S. Subramani charged out of the dugout to remind the players to stay focused as the visitors tried to pick a fight late in the game.
Faris said: “There is a real unity and belief about the team. We are fighting for each other too while fighting for our country.”
While it is always good to start a tournament with a win, skipper Hariss Harun urged his team to retain the hunger that has allowed them to end their run of three years without a competitive victory.
The midfielder, who grabbed the winner on Friday, added: “We needed this win, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We have not won the tournament or even got out of the group yet.
“We must stay focused, remain humble, respect every opponent and work harder to achieve our goals.”
Singapore’s Gabriel Quak chasing down Indonesia’s Putu Gede during Singapore’s 1-0 AFF Suzuki Cup win at the National Stadium o n Friday. The winger, whose cross led to Hariss Harun’s winner, epitomised the new-look Lions under interim national coach Fandi Ahmad by also displaying the diligence to track back defensively and throw himself into tackles.