U-21 coach Tardy wants players to punch above their weight
National Under-21 coach RICHARD TARDY tells AQIL HAZIQ MAHMUD he wants his boys to punch above their weight at the inaugural Nations Cup in Malacca
The team have been training hard. How do you see your boys shaping up for the opener against Malaysia tomorrow?
Tardy: It's difficult to say today, because we know that 80 per cent of the team played their last game on May 29 for Garena Young Lions against Ceres La Salle in the RHB Singapore Cup, and now, we have some players in recovery.
I'll have a better idea after the final training here, before we leave on Thursday.
But the spirit is good. I believe the players are ready to play this tough game because many of them are talking about this game.
You said that the team are not going to play defensively. Does that mean they will be an attacking team?
I want the team to try to win. Defensive or offensive... it depends on what happens in the game - if we need to be stronger, if we can keep the ball more, if the opponents are better.
What I say is we're going to play a good game, because many players have started in February playing with the Young Lions in the S.League, so they play against teams with older players, and I'm waiting for good things from these players.
Have you set a target for the Nations Cup?
The target is to try to play very good football. You know that the target is the South-east Asia (SEA) Games in one year (Kuala Lumpur 2017), but we know that step by step, we must build a strong team.
We started in Iran by playing two good games, now we have this tournament, and in July, we'll have another tournament. Normally, we'll finish in November with a tournament in Vietnam (Newspaper Cup).
The whole season, until December, is to prepare the players, because also it's a test not to only play with the same 11 - I want to test and see some players, to show their quality because sure, it's an official tournament, but also a friendly tournament.
Does playing in a friendly tournament mean results are not the most important thing?
No, in Under-21 football, the result is always important. We play to win. But it's also two ways - we're not only fixated on the results.
First, we must keep in mind that we must play well, and to be proud to put on the jersey of the Singapore team, the Singapore country.
We know that in football, you can play well and lose, you can play bad and win.
We know the SEA Games will be a very difficult tournament. We saw last year what could happen. We need players who can fight when it's a difficult game - for this, we try to play difficult games.
Going into Iran was not easy, same with this tournament, and the one in July also.
So, I want to push my players to see their character when they are in difficulty.
There's word that you might be the coach of the Singapore Under-23s at next year's SEA Games. What do you think are the chances of winning gold?
I can't talk about this. I know that we must produce good football because all the other countries are very strong.
Also, people in Singapore are disappointed by the result of the last SEA Games.
So, we have a big responsibility, because the U-21s this year will be the U-22s next year; the future of Singapore football against all the other young teams that are coming.
For them, I see a collective project but also an individual one, because after this there is only the national team, and they must put in their minds that they want to play in the senior team.
I said to them, 'In five months is the Suzuki Cup. Why can't a good young player go with the senior team and do well?'
What will it take for Singapore to win the SEA Games gold?
I can't say anything about this. When I'm going into a competition, it's to win and to go as far as I can.
If we can take the gold medal, we'll be happy.
First, we must have good preparation.
For this, we have accepted this Nations Cup tournament, to go to Iran, and to prepare for the tournament in July in Singapore, and to go to Vietnam again.
It's by playing international games that we can progress.
Putting most of the players in the S.League is also a good target for the players because in front of them, they have no easy games.
Every time, they must fight, and this is good for the future.
Nations Cup U-21 Quadrangular
Tomorrow and Sunday
Hang Jebat Stadium, Malacca
WHO ARE PLAYING
- 4.40pm: Thailand v Vietnam
- 8.40pm: Malaysia v Singapore
Live on Singtel TV Ch 110 (Eleven Sports)
- 4.40pm: Third-place play-off
- 8.40pm: Final
Live on Singtel TV Ch 109 (Eleven)