Sundram: We're the underdogs but anything is possible in football
National coach Sundram tells TNP he will not hesitate to blood youngsters if they are good enough
Singapore coach V Sundramoorthy shared his thoughts on his tenure, coaching philosophy and plans for the national team before the Lions took on Bahrain in an Asian Cup Group E qualifier this morning (Singapore time).
How do you feel now having been given the mandate to lead the Lions for the next two years after being a caretaker coach last year?
Sundram: Credit to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) for giving me time to work with the national team.
I feel like there is now enough time to do my job.
It is definitely an honour to represent the country, be it as a player or as a coach.
Every time I sing the national anthem, it is a great feeling.
You always remember the first time, so to be appointed national coach last year was special.
Of course, there was the caretaker title then and that's gone now but, to me, it's still the same job which means a lot to me.
With time on your side now, will you be blooding younger talents or will you stick with the tried and tested?
Eventually, you will need more younger players to have continuity in the national team.
I believe there are talented young players in Singapore and I'll always try to keep a balance of young and older players in the team.Lions coach Sundram
But, at the same time, I cannot call up young players just for the sake of having young players in the team.
They must have the quality to become national players, like Irfan and Ikhsan Fandi, and Adam Swandi, or even Shawal Anuar, who is 25 but not as experienced as other players who are of his age.
In most national teams, a player's form is more important than his age.
I believe there are talented young players in Singapore and I will always try to keep a balance of young and older players in the team.
What have you learnt over the past one year as national coach?
International football is a totally different ball game.
I have assisted Raddy (Avramovic) and Bernd (Stange) and now I'm experiencing it for myself.
The atmosphere and the temperament at international level are just different to league conditions. Coaches and players in the national team carry the weight of expectation of an entire country.
As a coach, one big difference is I don't get to work with the players week in, week out as you do at club level.
This is the same all around the world, we just have to do the best we can to get the best out of the players for the major assignments.
What were the highlights and what can be improved?
Beating Myanmar away 1-0 to win my first game in charge was a good start to my term.
We need to learn to play to our strengths.
We may not be physically or technically as strong as some of our opponents, but we can work harder, run more, close them down faster, be smarter and more disciplined than them.
How would you respond to critics who say you are an over-defensive coach?
There are always two sides of a coin and everyone who loves football is entitled to his own opinion.
I'm a positive man. Like any another occupation, we have to work hard, believe in ourselves and do our job to the best of our abilities.
You have been set the target of reaching the 2019 Asian Cup, which we have qualified for only as hosts in 1984. What would it mean to you to create history?
As a team from the bottom pot, people are already writing us off, so we have nothing to lose.
I have said before anything is possible in football even if we are the underdogs and it would be a great honour for the whole team to achieve the improbable.
David Lee and Benjamin Seetor's trip is sponsored by Qatar Airways Singapore. Qatar Airways has a modern fleet of 195 aircraft flying to more than 150 business and leisure destinations, including Doha and Bahrain. The world's fastest-growing airline will add a number of exciting new destinations, including Dublin, Nice and Skopje, to its network this year.