Sundram: Who says I'm a defensive coach?
Lions coach rues missed chances, says he had the best squad available at Suzuki Cup
His Lions were booted out of the AFF Suzuki Cup at the first hurdle, with a solitary point - and goal.
And V Sundramoorthy has faced much criticism, with many labelling him as too defensive, while others frowned upon his squad selection.
In his first comments since returning from Manila, the coach insisted he would have done nothing differently, and there was little more he could ask from his charges.
"We were attacking the Philippines until the moment we received a harsh red card and, in the next game (against Thailand), your paper highlighted the statistics which showed that we had more shots than Thailand - both in the number of shots as well the number of shots on target," said Sundram, who has six months left on his year-long contract with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
"Every player I picked showed 100 per cent commitment during training and in matches, and all of them definitely gave it their all. As a coach, I could not have asked for more from them in terms of commitment.
"While there are areas for improvement - which I will present in my report to the FAS Council, I am generally pleased with the attitude and dedication of our players."
In the opening Group A fixture against the Philippines, midfielder Hafiz Abu Sujad was sent off after just 34 minutes for a reckless challenge. The Lions then went into defensive mode and escaped with a 0-0 draw.
In the second match against Thailand, they again set up a defensive wall, only to concede an 89th-minute goal to lose 1-0.
"In our last match, we were 30 minutes away from qualifying for the semi-finals… we should and could have scored more than one goal in the last two matches to secure full points against Thailand and Indonesia, but that's football," Sundram conceded.
There were no defining moments per se (in the tournament), it was just a case of missed opportunities – if we had converted the chances we created, we would have done better.
Lions coach V Sundramoorthy
In the final group match against Indonesia, the Lions led through Khairul Amri's goal, but conceded twice in the second half to lose 2-1.
Sundram did not want to address the Facebook outburst by veteran defender Baihakki Khaizan, who hit out at the national coaches midway through the group stage after he was dropped from the starting 11, and stated he would have changed little in the personnel he took to Manila.
"This is the best squad available and, considering the likes of Fazrul Nawaz (Tampines Rovers) and Iqbal Hussain (Hougang United) were injured, I'd probably still have selected this team," he said.
"We have good and capable management and staff at FAS. Thanks to their full support, we prepared our team to the best of our abilities in various areas including training camps, analysis and support staff etc.
"We have to move on now and focus on the Asian Cup 2019 qualification third round which will begin in March."
Many now believe Singapore football is on a drastic slide but the national coach disagreed.
"I believe the future of Singapore football is promising, especially with technical director Michel Sablon's youth development plans getting into higher gear. We may only start to reap the benefits in a few years but, if everybody comes on board this vision - from the authorities to corporate organisations - then I'm sure Singapore football will only grow from strength to strength," said Sundram.
The 51-year-old reiterated his pride at leading his country.
"As a player, you want to wear the national jersey, and I was proud to have that opportunity. Since I hung up my boots, I have never been so proud as when I heard the Majulah Singapura played in the first game," he said.
"As the coach of the national team, I represent more than five million Singaporeans and it was a huge honour for me, something I will always remember."