National Team - Lions ● Mar 19, 2019

Lions to go on offensive against Malaysia, says Nazri Nasir

Nazri Nasir, Zulfahmi Arifin, Zaquan Adha and Tan Cheng Hoe at the AIRMARINE Cup pre-match press conference on 19 March 2019

KUALA LUMPUR, 19 MARCH 2019 – As far as first-time assignments for a Singapore head coach goes, it probably does not get more challenging than a clash with Malaysia.

That is the task facing Nazri Nasir, who was appointed to take charge of the national team two weeks ago for the upcoming AIRMARINE Cup 2019. The inaugural edition of the tournament will see the Lions go up against the hosts in the first-round knock-out tie tomorrow night, with Oman playing Afghanistan in the other tie earlier in the same day.

No stranger to Causeway derbies, Nazri is undaunted by the prospect of taking to the Bukit Jalil National Stadium pitch and vowed that the Lions will not shirk from the fight.

“Knowing that our first game is against Malaysia, the pressure is high and but it’s a pleasure for me to handle this pressure,” he told “It’s a fantastic challenge for me and I’m really excited. As head coach, I am looking forward to working with our team and for them to play to my plan.

“We are definitely not going to sit back. The fans can expect attacking football from the first minute. We will try to win the ball in their half and take the game to them.”

Speaking during the pre-match press conference at Dorsett Grand Subang earlier today, Nazri added: “Against Malaysia, there’s always a lot of history (when we play them)… when they go to the field, it’s a do-or-die game…we expect an explosive game tomorrow. Even if a player gets five minutes in the game, I expect him to give 100 per cent in those five minutes.”

The former Singapore captain is expecting a similarly offensive approach from his opposite number Tan Cheng Hoe, who has called up 13 players that were not part of their ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup squad.

“It won’t be easy (for us)”, Nazri said. “Being on home ground, I expect them to attack and go forward. In front of their fans, they will want to play good football… I expect them (new players) to be even more motivated to go all out to justify their places in the team.”

The Lions had their first training session together yesterday evening in Kuala Lumpur, having arrived in the capital earlier in the day. They may not have had much time to prepare for the game, but Nazri has faith in the 22 men he has selected.

“Most of them are experienced players and have been in the national team for a while,” the 48-year-old said. “It’s just (about) how I want to get them to play according to my style and I believe they will give 100 per cent.

“We are confident and I believe in my players. We can get the result we want if we play to our plan. I want our players to be as hungry as I am to get the win.”

This will be the first meeting between both teams since a 0-0 friendly draw was played out in the National Stadium here in October 2016. Singapore’s last trip to Bukit Jalil ended in a 3-0 win in the 2012 Suzuki Cup group stages.

The match kicks off at 8.45pm tomorrow night and will be shown LIVE on SingTel’s Mio Sports Ch 111.