AFC Asian Cup 2019: Singapore coach Sundram banks on defence to upset the odds

Singapore face Bahrain in the opening encounter of qualifying campaign on 28 March.

Madhu Mohana
Sundram banks on Madhu and Bennett to deliver the goods for Singapore

Singapore national team coach V Sundramoorthy believes that the Lions can find a way to make it to the group stages of AFC Asian Cup 2019 if they are able to maintain defensive discipline in the qualifying campaign.

The 51-year-old tactician dropped veteran defender Baihakki Khaizan from the list of 28 players who have been called up for training but is banking on the likes of Daniel Bennett, Madhu Mohana, Safuwan Baharudin and Hariss Harun to do the job at the qualifying campaign, which begins on 28 March when the Lions take on Bahrain in Group E-encounter. Notably, Singapore will also face Turkmenistan and Chinese Taipei in double-legged round robin format in the group stages.

Also read: AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers - Singapore, Malaysia handed tough draws

While there is no clear picture about his continuation as coach after the first game against Bahrain as his one-year contract will expire in May, Sundram is focused on the job in hand and is doing all that he could to get the squad in shape for what seems to be a tough campaign against higher-ranked teams.

The former Tampines Rovers coach had the national team's first training session at Geylang Lorong 12 field, according to The New Paper, and is expected to assemble the squad every Monday.

It is now important for Sundram and Co. to bury the memories of what had been a disastrous Suzuki Cup campaign last year. The four-time winners crashed out of the group stages without even winning a single game but their backline did its job for most part of the campaign even during games against Philippines (0-0) and Thailand (1-0).

"At the Asian Cup qualifiers, it will be all about us. If we can hold the fort and compete, we have every chance of upsetting the odds," Sundram said, as quoted by news daily.

"Daniel Bennett and Madhu Mohana combined well at the Suzuki Cup, so that is a big plus for us. We can get players in for defence, and we still have Hariss Harun and Safuwan Baharudin who can also play at the back, so it's not a big issue.

"We will try as much as possible to gather the national players every Monday to work on technique, tactics and fitness to get them ready for this new assignment. The door is still open for any local player who makes a good impression when the S.League kicks off again later this month."