National Teams – Age-group ● Apr 26, 2018
Fandi praises team effort after Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy opening win
The Singapore Under-21 National Team Head Coach was pleased with the 5-1 win against Laos but urged the side to keep their focus
Singapore Under-21 National Team Head Coach Fandi Ahmad at the post-match press conference (Photo from www.hassanalbolkiahtrophy.gov.bn)
SINGAPORE, 26 APRIL 2018 – They could have let their heads drop after conceding an equaliser barely two minutes after taking the lead, but the Singapore Under-21 National Team managed to recover quickly to emerge 5-1 victors on Wednesday night, 25 April against Laos in their Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy opener.
It was no surprise that Head Coach Fandi Ahmad had many reasons to be pleased after the match, as he praised his charges for pulling off an emphatic win.
“It was a very positive performance,” he told FAS earlier today. “The boys followed instructions and were very determined. Some players are quite new to international football, but they gave their all.
“(For example), Jacob (Mahler) as excellent in the centre, breaking up attacks and winning a lot of challenges.
“We had (to put out) a reshuffled line-up as we had a setback before the game when Naqi(uddin Eunos) was ruled out with a groin injury.
“Our message to the boys was that we had to win our first game and we delivered. We came together as a team with a very strong mindset and mentality.”
That they did, as they laid siege to the Laos goal after Phithack Kongmathilath had cancelled out Rusyaidi Salime’s 18th-minute opener.
Hami Syahin restored the lead on 40 minutes with a crisp volley, before Ikhsan Fandi delivered a further blow on the stroke of half-time
Ikhsan struck again four minutes after the break, before Rusyaidi rounded off the scoring with a 92nd-minute strike.
Hami Syahin (no. 12) tussles for the ball against Laos (Photo from www.hassanalbolkiahtrophy.gov.bn)
Fandi admitted that he “didn’t expect a big score” and was delighted at the amount of opportunities his charges carved out.
“We kept on pressing… I was very happy with the timings of our runs, the crosses and getting into scoring positions,” he said.
“I’m happy that Ikhsan is scoring again. He was a slight doubt before the game but he had a very good game, with plenty of good moments and he also created the chance for Rusyaidi to score (the first goal).
Of Rusyaidi’s performance, Fandi added: “He’s usually a centre midfielder or right-back but he showed he can play in this position, where he can rotate with Hami. The two wide attackers interchange with our centre so there’s a lot of mobility.”
The U-21s had a recovery session and light training today morning and Fandi wants the boys to stay grounded as they prepare for their second and final Group B match against Cambodia on 30 April.
“Rest is very important to get the boys refreshed again and hopefully those with some knocks and injuries can recover,” he said. “Overall, while we are happy with our first win, Cambodia will be stronger and we just need to focus on ourselves.”
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