Singapore head coach V. Sundramoorthy did not let the pressure and expectations of a nation weigh him down as the Lions and faced their northern rivals on Friday evening during the 2016 Causeway Challenge at the National Stadium.
This was always going to be a tricky encounter ahead of next month’s ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup. Both teams sought to head into the tournament with a competitive edge over the other.
Singapore supporters cheer during the Causeway Challenge. Photo: Sport Singapore
Call it lucky or unlucky, the plucky Lions, featuring a squad with a handful of veterans and debutants, managed to hold the visitors to a 0-0 stalemate in the presence of a 24,928-strong crowd.
With the result, Sundram now holds a record of one win, one draw and three losses as the national head coach.
The last time both teams played at the same venue was during the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup, where the Malaysians emerged 3-1 victors, leaving the Bernd Stange-led Lions battered and bruised.
The Singaporeans asserted their home-ground authority right from kickoff and managed to slow down the Malaysians, forcing them to go on the defensive for most of the match.
Singapore’s Sahil Suhaimi (right) attempting an overhead kick against Malaysia during the Causeway Challenge. Photo: Sport Singapore
The Lions had multiple chances throughout the match but simply could not convert. Their closest opportunity came in the 42nd minute when they struck the crossbar twice through Khairul Amri’s attempt and a rebound by Hariss Harun.
“The boys kept the ball well, and were confident going forward. They could have done better finding the final pass, but we had chances. It’s better that we get the turn of luck when we’re at the AFF Suzuki Cup,” said Sundram, who was optimistic and happy to move on with the draw.
Sundram and his charges will head to face Hong Kong next Tuesday in their final friendly match before the AFF Suzuki Cup begins.