Asian Cup Qualifier: V Sundramoorthy banks on bench strength ahead of Singapore's Chinese Taipei test

Singapore take on Chinese Taipei in the second Group E match of AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualifiers at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Khairul Amri
Singapore looking for their first win in AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers Reuters

Singapore coach V Sundramoorthy says he is happy with the Lions' bench strength after second-half substitutes Khairul Nizam and Nazrul Nazari combined to produce a late equaliser during their 1-1 draw against Myanmar in the closed-door friendly at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday.

The 51-year-old tactician made 10 changes in the match, which was played as a tune-up to the AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifier first-round match against Chinese Taipei on Saturday. Notably, Singapore dominated most part of the match, having created quite a lot of chances. However, the 160th-ranked side trialed Myanmar after Aung Thu capped off a brilliant counter attack from the visitors in the 65th minute with a goal.

Singapore headed into the injury time trialing behind, but Nazari received a brilliant cross from Nizam before slotting it past the Myanmar custodian in the dying moments of the game. Sundram conceded that finishing has been an issue with his side but the late equaliser will be big morale-booster ahead of Saturday's match against Kazuo Kuroda's side.

"Scoring in the last minute to get a result will help morale-wise, and it is a boost because the bench players are showing they are up for the fight for selection. It was an excellent cross by Nizam and a great first-time shot by Nazrul for the goal," Sundramoorthy said, as quoted by The New Paper.

"Not scoring is always a concern. But it is also important to note we were the better team with more chances and possession. We hit the target a few times and, on another day, we could have scored three."

Singapore have quite a few in-form players, who have had a good start to the 2017 S.League season, available for selection. While Tampines striker Khairul Amri is expected to make the playing XI, Nizam's performances in the league as well as in Tuesday's friendly will be hard to ignore. The key to Singapore's success on Saturday will be winger Faris Ramli, who has set the local league on fire with his exploits for Home United.

Problem of plenty

Having come up with a solid performance in their 0-0 higher-ranked Bahrain in their qualifying campaign opener in Riffa earlier this year, the Singapore defence, led by veteran Daniel Bennett, will be hoping to impress once again. Utility player Irfan Fandi has settled well at the centre-back role and will fight for a place with Tampines skipper Madhu Mohana, who missed the Bahrain clash due to suspension.