Later News Dec 06

Lions get off to winning start in Suzuki Cup, but head coach Tatsuma eyes improvement

Three goals, three points, a clean sheet and a happy Ikhsan Fandi was probably all that any Singapore football fan could ask of the Lions in their opening Suzuki Cup fixture against Myanmar at the National Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub last night (SGT).


Despite the Lions’ comfortable 3-0 win, however, head coach Tatsuma Yoshida believes that his charges can improve even more as the tournament progresses, as they look to ‘Do a Leicester’ and defy the odds to win the regional tournament.


“I am particularly happy and proud with our team’s fighting spirit and the way we played according to our formation,” Tatsuma said after the game. “We had a few players making their debuts in this competition, like Shawal (Anuar) and Song (Uiyoung). They showed their potential and abilities to help the team.


“The first match is always important for the team and we were a bit nervous in the beginning, but we got three points and that is the most important thing.


“Sure, we are happy about the result but we can only be happy about it for tonight. Next, we have to prepare well for the next few matches. We have more areas to improve on and hopefully we can overcome everything that come our way in this tournament.”


Cheered on by the partisan 7,588 fans in the stadium, Tatsuma’s men hardly gave the visitors a sniff in the first-half, and scored all three of their goals in a devastating 12-minute period through Safuwan Baharudin (34’) and Ikhsan Fandi (39’, 45+1’).


The brace by Ikhsan, in particular, caught the eye, as fans of a certain vintage at the stadium had to pinch themselves to ascertain that they hadn’t accidentally travelled back in time to watch Fandi Ahmad in his pomp.


However, Ikhsan, who won the man of the match award, admitted that he wasn’t at the races when the game first started.


“I felt that I wasn't settled down in the game for the first 20 minutes to be honest, had to find my rhythm,” said Ikshan.


“But you take time to adapt to games like this, in a tournament like this, and once we got it rolling, we see the team start to move well together, and we found our rhythm and then we found our goals. So, I think it's just normal in a competition like this.”


With Thailand beating Timor-Leste 2-0 in the night’s other match, Singapore currently find themselves top of Group A, and can take a huge step towards qualifying for the next stage when they take on the Philippines this Wednesday.




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