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Lions get ready for Indonesia

Gary Koh

All Singapore need is a draw to secure a place in the Asean Football Championship semi-finals when they take on Indonesia at the National Stadium tonight.

Despite dishing out an 11-0 lesson to minnows Laos on Monday, Lions coach Radjoko Avramovic refuses to get carried away by the euphoria.

“It was good to score a few goals, but that's already over,” he said during the pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

“Yesterday was yesterday. We are now in a good position, but we must start preparing for the next game tomorrow.”

Looking ahead at the Lions’ final group match, the Serb believes Peter Withe’s men will provide a stern test for his side.

He continued: “We expect a very hard game against them, so our players have to reproduce the same quality of play they showed against Laos.

“If we do not score goals, we are not going to win.”

Meanwhile, Avramovic is keeping his faith in forward Indra Sahdan Daud despite the forward not scoring a goal since his return to competitive action.

He is effusive in his praise of the big-game player: “Indra is a special player and has done a great job for us so far. Our job now is to help him regain his full strength so that he is able to continue to perform for us.”

With skipper Aide Iskandar and veteran defender S Subramani set to return after being rested in the second group game and no major injury worries, Raddy is set to field his strongest line-up in a repeat of the 2005 Tiger Cup final clash.

While the Lions are in full strength, their Indonesian counterparts will have to do battle without suspended forward Saktiawan Sinaga, who scored all his side’s goals in the current campaign. Defender Firmansyah is rated doubtful for this match.

Although Withe will be deprived of Saktiawan’s scoring reliability, he is optimistic the rest will rise up to the challenge.

“My players are trained not to just be restricted to one system of play. In fact, we work very hard at adapting various systems in certain games," said Withe. 

“It paid off against Vietnam when we changed the way we played in midfield and dominated the game. We could have won had we taken more chances, given the amount we created.”

Amidst rumours of alleged gloom and doom in the Indonesian camp, coach Peter Withe remains bullish ahead of his side’s do-or-die clash with the co-hosts.

“I don’t look back in the past; I look into the future. This is a new chapter and the match is the most important for us to date,” he declared, dismissing any notion of a revenge mission after the cup final loss two years ago.

The two-time Tiger Cup winning coach has faith in his charges to resurrect their campaign after a stuttering start.

Citing his former team Thailand as an example, he explained: “During the 2002 Tiger Cup, we had only a ten-day preparation period. Hence, when the tournament began, we did not begin well as we were unfit.

“As it progressed, I told the boys, ‘We have enough matches to get ourselves to the level we expect to be.’ True enough, we peaked at the right time during the crucial games and went on win the Cup.

“I hope Indonesia’s campaign will begin to peak, starting from tomorrow.”


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