National Team - Lions ● Nov 26, 2018

Fandi proud of Lions despite Suzuki Cup exit, hopes for increased fan support

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Fandi Ahmad gesticulates during the Thailand-Singapore match. (Photo: AFF Suzuki Cup)

BANGKOK, 26 NOVEMBER 2018 – They might have stumbled at the final hurdle in their bid to make the semi-finals of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2018, but Singapore head coach Fandi Ahmad gave credit to his team for their spirited displays in the tournament.      

The Lions headed to the Rajamangala Stadium on Sunday night needing at least a draw to keep their hopes of progressing to the next stage alive, but were outclassed 3-0 by Thailand.

Singapore had opened their campaign with a 1-0 win over Indonesia and thrashed Timor-Leste 6-1 in their third game, but a 1-0 defeat away to the Philippines proved to be the difference. However, Fandi refused to dwell on what could have been.

“Congratulations to Thailand, I think they deserved to win as they were much better than us today,” he said at the post-match press conference.

“They were tactically very sound, they closed (down) all our space(s) and they were very fast on the sides.

“But I am very proud of the Singapore players (because) they gave their all; we are the underdogs, people thought we didn’t have a chance (from the start) but we fought until the last day and we gave our best.”

The 56-year-old also expressed hope that Singaporeans will recognise the renewed tenacity in the Lions’ recent performances and back the National Team again.

“Obviously, we are very proud because the never-say-die attitude is there, the motivation is there,” Fandi said. “We don’t want to lose; today, we tried to get the goals, I’m very proud because they are trying to win games, we are not sitting back against the best team in this competition.

“This team is built of fighters, we don’t give up… we want to get the support we used to get a few years ago. Even though this tournament has been a short one for us, I think we have gained some confidence in the public to get back the support for the team.”

Having integrated the likes of youngsters like the Fandi brothers, Zulqarnaen Suzliman and Jacob Mahler, Fandi insisted that youth is the way to go for the National Team.

“We are very proud of the players, especially the younger ones who have come in… this is the beginning of the renewal of this team for the future,” he said.