National Team - Lions ● Nov 12, 2018

Hassan hails ‘amazing’ Singapore fans after Suzuki Cup win over Indonesia


SINGAPORE, 12 NOVEMBER 2018 – Lions goalkeeper Hassan Sunny has lauded the home supporters who came out to roar the team on last Friday in their AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 opener against Indonesia.


Backed by over 30,000 fans, Fandi Ahmad’s men pulled off a 1-0 win at the National Stadium, Sports Hub to start their Group B campaign on a winning note.


Prior to kick-off, the crowd sang a rousing rendition of Majulah Singapura together with the players and a massive roar greeted Hariss Harun’s 37th-minute goal – an atmosphere which was not lost on the team, according to Hassan.


“The crowd was amazing,” he told the FAS website. “It wasn’t (just) about the numbers; it was about them turning up for the game. They showed their faces, they sang the national anthem with us… that played a big part (to us) in terms of motivation.


“We know that the crowd is here for us, the fans came to see and support us. Everyone was motivated before the game – we spoke and said (to each other), ‘this is our home ground, we need to show that nobody can take anything from us’.


“I’ve been with the national team for about 14 to 15 years; I think it’s been quite a while since I last saw a crowd like this and I hope they will come again and support us in our next home game against Timor Leste.”

Hassan, who earned his 78th cap, was also happy with his clean sheet, which was only his second ever in the competition’s history.


“To be honest, I wasn’t supposed to start this game… (but) unfortunately Izwan (Mahbud) had an injury prior to the game and I was given a chance,” said the 34-year-old, who has a healthy rivalry with Izwan. “It’s a satisfying moment for me; the opportunity was given and I took full advantage of it.”


The Army United custodian also hailed the team effort in shutting out the Garuda, who only registered one shot on target in the match despite having the majority of possession.


“Our strikers started defending the minute they (Indonesia) had the ball,” Hassan said. “I think everyone played a crucial part in that game because we didn’t have just four, five players to defend – I had ten players in front of me defending, so it’s very nice to see that everyone is behind each other and that we have each other’s backs.”


Shakir Hamzah makes a tackle during the match against Indonesia.


Hassan believes that the Lions “proved a point” with the performance and result, given that many had written off their chances and the visitors were regarded as favourites.


“We are very happy with the result,” he said. “I think nobody gave us a chance before the game, or even before the tournament.


“This (is a) new team, new set of coaches, everything is very new to us… so like I said before, we have this fire.


“The approach towards the game was very good; everyone was fired up before the game and true enough, I think we showed in the game that we were the deserving winners.


“The credit goes to everyone on the field, on the bench and even the staff, the coaches, the medical staff… everyone played a big part.”


Fandi Ahmad puts the Lions through their paces in Bacolod.


Ever the professional, Hassan stressed the importance of not getting carried away as the team’s attention turns to the next game against the Philippines.


The Lions arrived in Bacolod on Saturday evening after a ten-hour journey and held their first training session yesterday as they prepare to face the hosts, who will arguably have fresher legs with this being their first match.


“Putting aside the travelling, I think everyone is geared up for this game,” he said. “We had a light training session and the mood in the camp is very good, everyone is enjoying themselves.


“But still, we are very focused for this coming game and whoever is going to play is also going to have the same attitude, same match behaviour as we did against Indonesia.


“I think Philippines is a very strong team with a lot of Europe-based players (but) if we stay focused, I think we can get something out of this game.”


Singapore’s match against the Philippines will kick off at 8pm on Tuesday, 13 November. The match is LIVE on okto and Toggle.