Wanted: A right winger for the Lions
Sundram to use Myanmar friendly to solve problematic position ahead of Asian Cup qualifier against Taiwan
Singapore national football coach V Sundramoorthy will use tonight's closed-door friendly against Myanmar to find his right man for the right-winger's role.
It has been more than a year since he took charge of the Lions and the position on the flank has proven to be a "problematic" one. No player has yet to meet Sundram's demands and nail down the role.
With a crucial Asian Cup qualifier against Taiwan coming up on Saturday, Sundram is hoping to find some possible solutions from tonight's non-A international friendly, in which he is allowed to use more than six substitutes.
He told The New Paper yesterday: "The defence and central midfield are more or less sorted out.
"But we have problems with the right wing... We may have some changes and this friendly is important for the boys to get together for match practice, and for me to see what works."
Based on the past few training sessions, Shahdan Sulaiman is likely to start on the right wing against Myanmar tonight, with Home United's in-form Faris Ramli on the left.
Shahdan's form is improving after missing the earlier part of the season due to a calf strain.
While the 29-year-old Tampines Rovers midfielder has yet to score for the Stags this term, he has produced four assists in their last six games.
Shahdan, who has 46 international caps and two goals, said: "It's not my favourite position, but I've played there many times for club and country. It's all about the team, so I will do my best to follow the coach's instructions.
"Of course, it was disheartening to miss out on the last call-up because it is always a joy to play for the national team. I feel that my fitness is there and I'm slowly getting there in terms of form.
"I hope that if I get to play, I will be able to create chances both from open play and set-pieces, and put up a good performance."
If this doesn't work out, Sundram still has other options, even though hamstring injuries have robbed him of veteran Juma'at Jantan and the uncapped Muhaimin Suhaimi.
He surprisingly started Safuwan Baharudin on the right in the 0-0 draw against Bahrain in March, before shifting Man-of-the-Match Yasir Hanapi out wide during the match.
Gabriel Quak is a natural winger, while forward Khairul Nizam, and right backs Nazrul Nazari and Faritz Hameed have also played as right wingers before.
The main aim of tonight's friendly will be to prepare themselves for Saturday's Asian Cup qualifier against Taiwan.
Singapore's 0-0 away draw against Bahrain, widely considered to be the toughest Group E team, has given Sundram's side a realistic chance of qualifying for the Asian Cup. Other than in 1984 when they played in the tournament as hosts, Singapore have never made it to the competition proper.
World No. 160 Taiwan, who are ranked three places below the Lions on the Fifa world rankings, lost their opening Group E tie 3-1 to Turkmenistan.
As such, a usually cautious Sundram may be more adventurous against the lower-ranked Taiwan and tonight's friendly gives him the perfect chance to smooth out the rough edges.
Sundram is expecting nothing less than 100 per cent from his players.
He said: "It's a tough job, there are no easy opponents and you can't take your foot off the pedal. The boys have the desire and fighting spirit. They want to play as a team.
"We don't have stars, but we have leaders such as Hassan Sunny, Daniel Bennett, Hariss Harun and Shahril Ishak.
"Hariss, for example, demands a good performance from his teammates on the pitch and that's what we need for every game."
Sundram is likely to keep his faith with the spine that valiantly held Bahrain to a draw.
This means Hassan will stay in goal, with 39-year-old Bennett and 19-year-old Irfan Fandi in central defence in front of him.
Hariss will lead the team from central midfield along with Izzdin Shafiq, while striker Khairul Amri should keep his place up front.