National Team - Lions ● Sep 07, 2021
Tatsuma reflects on Lions’ September training sessions
SINGAPORE, 7 SEPTEMBER 2021 – The Singapore Men’s National Team held a series of training sessions from 31 August to 3 September during the September FIFA international window.
Coach Tatsuma Yoshida had the opportunity to cast his eye over 23 players from the Singapore Premier League (SPL), which included maiden call-ups for Lion City Sailors FC midfielder Song Uiyoung and Hougang United FC midfielder Afiq Noor. Geylang International FC forward Amy Recha, Young Lions defender Jacob Mahler and Tanjong Pagar United FC defender Faritz Hameed were recalled, having last featured in June 2015, November 2018 and June 2019 respectively.
Restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic meant that it was not feasible to call up the overseas-based players and to arrange international friendlies. Despite that, Tatsuma was pleased to get the team together and praised their commitment.
“This squad was selected for a possible friendly match and some of them are playing under me for the first time,” the Japanese told FAS.org.sg. “Unfortunately, this opportunity will have to be postponed. But I am satisfied with their attitude and effort (during this period); the sessions were quite hard but they always did their best. They did not lose their smiles and enjoyment, which is very supportive and helpful for the team.
“I also want to say ‘thank you’ to the SPL clubs, who were very cooperative with the call-ups, which is fantastic.”
Lions captain Hariss Harun, who did not link up with the squad in June due to personal family reasons, echoed Tatsuma’s comments.
“It always feels good to be involved with the National Team and to get in touch with the boys,” the 30-year-old Lion City Sailors star told FAS.org.sg. “It is a pity that we do not have any games for this window. For myself, I feel like it has been a long time since I have been under Coach Tatsuma so it is nice to get the feel of his training again and also what he expects of the team, expects of us.
“The sessions were a bit intense but it is good to have this break from the league; now we return to the clubs so hopefully we can continue to be in good shape and be ready for any games coming up.”
Amy, whose scintillating form at club level earned him a recall, feels motivated to continue his run of good performances with a view to earning his first cap in future.
“I do feel good to be back after five years and to see some of the familiar faces,” the 29-year-old, who has scored 10 league goals, said. “I am happy and honoured to come back. I was always hopeful… I just work hard in training (and focused on matters at) club level first. I think it is a bit of luck, hard work, a change of mentality and living style (that has helped my form this season).
“The sessions were quite tough and intense… but at the end of the day, it is a good feeling to be here. I want to keep going and doing well in Geylang in order to get called up again in the next international break.”
With the exception of the three FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 matches in June, the Lions have not played any international matches since November 2019 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tatsuma admits that it has been tough to keep team morale up with all the uncertainty and a lack of international action to look forward to and hopes to be able to resume action during the remaining international windows for this year. This includes the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup, which is slated to held in December (pending official confirmation) as well as looking ahead to the third round of Asian Cup qualifying next year.
“I have considered this every day, every night on how to motivate them,” he said. “If we focus too much on concepts, they may be a bit bored and it might be difficult to keep them motivated. So, we have to have some more fun (elements in training) but I still have to make them play with intensity…it is who we are. Our philosophy is to always play with intensity, intensity with tactics; no intensity, there is no football. Every day, in every session, we did it… the intensity is always there. It has been very difficult to keep their motivation (high during this pandemic) but it will be a good experience for them and also for me.”
Hariss concluded: “We do not know whether there are any competitions coming up, like for example the Suzuki Cup. So it is hard (with the uncertainty), especially because before the pandemic came about, I think we were doing well. We got some good results and it kind of disrupted our momentum. So it is a pity, but it is what it is and we cannot change that. We just have to try to be positive, work hard and try to get to a higher level and keep improving.”