Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny believes that his exposure to Thai Premier League will help his side face an in-form Thailand in their AFF Suzuki Cup campaign on Tuesday. After clinching a point by virtue of a goalless draw against co-hosts Philippines in the tournament opener even after being reduced to 10 men early in the game, the Lions are gearing up for one of their biggest tests in the group stages of the tournament.
A win or even a point gained in the game against a strong Thai outfit, who are favourites to defend their Suzuki Cup title, will help Singapore a lot in taking them closer to the semi-final spot.
Singapore were resolute at the back after midfielder Hafiz Sujad was red carded just after 34 minutes into the game. Hassan was on top of his game denying the co-hosts striker Hikaru Minegeshi on multiple occasions.
The in-form custodian, who plies his trade for the recently-relegated Thai club, Army United, reveals he knows the capabilities of key Thai players, including Kawin Thamsatchanan and hat-trick hero Teerasil Dangda, who helped the War Elephants sink Indonesia 4-2 in their opening encounter.
"It is an advantage and I can tell my team-mates about Thailand. We know it will be a tough game but we have to concentrate and be alert to their runs," Hassan said, as quoted by the tournament's official website.
"Teerasil is in great form and is a top-class striker. I know his capabilities as I have played against him many times, I know the way he plays and that can help in the game.
"The team can't depend just on me. We have to defend together as we did against the Philippines. The strikers defended from the front and we had a great performance. That gives us a great foundation."
Hassan also spoke of how the Thais would not play as physical a game as Philippines but are more dangerous a unit than any other team in the tournament. He stressed on the need to have more possession if they are to see off a stiff challenge on Tuesday.
"If you look at their physique, they are not the same size as the Aussies or Iranians, or even the Koreans and Japanese. But, in terms of their play, I think they are just one level below Japan," the 32-year-old was quoted as saying by The New Paper.
"Against the Thais, we need to cover the space, follow our men, and beware of the third man running. We cannot let them have time with the ball."