Lack of finishing still a concern for Sundram
But national coach pleased to see bench players showing fight for selection
|(Nazrul Nazari 90+4)||(Aung Thu 65)|
Singapore's inability to find the net is still a major concern for national coach V Sundramoorthy ahead of Saturday's crucial Asian Cup qualifier against Taiwan, but the Lions cannot be faulted for lack of trying.
Deep into added time and trailing 1-0 against Myanmar in a closed-door friendly at Jalan Besar Stadium last night, striker Khairul Nizam provided a sumptuous cross for fellow substitute Nazrul Nazari to volley in a delightful equaliser to salvage a 1-1 draw.
"Not scoring is always a concern," said Sundram after the match.
"But it is also important to note we were the better team with more chances and possession.
"We hit the target a few times and, on another day, we could have scored three.
"Scoring in the last minute to get a result will help morale-wise, and it's a boost because the bench players are showing they are up for the fight for selection.
"It was an excellent cross by Nizam and a great first-time shot by Nazrul for the goal."
This was not an "A" international and no ranking points were at stake.
Sundram, in making 10 changes during the match, would have just wanted to make use of this fixture to experiment with certain tactics and players.
For most of the match, the Lions dominated proceedings, but just could not find the breakthrough against a a reasonably-strong Myanmar side.
Their first 11 included eight players who started in the last-minute 1-0 defeat by India in their Asian Cup qualifier, and five who started in a 3-1 away win over Indonesia in March.
Off a lightning counter-attack in the 65th minute, the visitors grabbed the opener when Aung Thu latched on to Kyaw Ko Ko's pass to shoot past Lions goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud.
Sundram will need to work on his players' set-piece delivery and finishing in the next few days before Saturday's crucial qualifier.
Shahdan Sulaiman and Shakir Hamah were found wanting with most of their crosses and, when Safuwan Baharudin was gifted a clear sight at goal in the 71st minute following a defensive error, he shot straight at Myanmar goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Htet.
A Zulfahmi Arifin cross did find Safuwan in the 75th minute, but the latter's header came off the bar with the goalkeeper beaten, and Faris Ramli could not turn the loose ball in.
Call it bad luck or profligacy, Faritz Hameed then had a gaping goal to turn in Mustafic Fahrudin's knockdown and missed the ball entirely in the 89th minute.
NICK OF TIME
But Nizam and Nazrul combined in the nick of time to give their team a much-needed lift ahead of Saturday's must-win game against Taiwan at Jalan Besar Stadium if the Lions are to stay on track to qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup Finals.
"Myanmar are a fast team, who pass the ball well, so it was a good warm-up game for us," said Sundram.
"We were okay in defence, with just some concerns during the transition period when opponents counter attack.
"And, of course, we need to score goals.
"Taiwan are also a well-organised and good passing side.
"We saw positives from the friendly and I know more or less the 23 players I will select for the match because it will be a different game and I have to pick the right type of players."