The Singapore coach knows his opponents are a much stronger team, but he is optimistic that they will improve upon their previous performances in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualifiersWith two losses in two qualifying games, Singapore coach Bernd Stange knows that the chances of them qualifying for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup are slim.
But ahead of their third Group A match against Syria tomorrow evening, the German has deemed it "absolutely neccessary" to achieve more than they did against Jordan and Oman (4-0 and 2-0 losses respectively).
"We rate them (Syria) very highly... and it will be a difficult task for us to manage a good result," Stange pointed out during the pre-match press conference earlier today afternoon at the Amara Hotel.
"We have to be realistic: our chance [to qualify] is gone, it’s a very little theoretical chance. For us it’s another good test to show our improvement. Now we are waiting for a better performance and hopefully a better result.
"It will be very difficult for us but we are full of optimism and we will try to bring our best tomorrow."
Lions captain Shahril Ishak echoed his coach's sentiments.
"For me, the last one week we’ve trained very hard under coach Bernd and we want to achieve something for tomorrow’s game, and hopefully we will have the result that we want," he said.
"As players, we will support coach Bernd, follow his style of playing and we will give our 110% in the field. I hope my players will have the will and have good commitment for tomorrow’s game."
With qualification a difficult task, the 65-year-old Stange has opted for a different, more long-term approach to slowly build for the future by including more youngsters in the team.
"In the last match with Laos and [against] Hong Kong [before that], we played already with a lot of youngsters and that’s our way and we will follow this way," Stange explained.
"I don’t want to put too much pressure on these Under-21 and 23 players to make results against men.
"We prepare a team now for the SEA Games this year and even for the SEA Games in 2015 in our Sports Hub. It means all these players we prepare, they will be 26, 27 and 28 in the next AFC Cup in 2017 and 2019. And then we will have a [stronger] national team and then qualification is a must, but not now."
Syria are not exactly in a good position either as they sit third with one point from two games, and coach Anas Makhlouf hopes to use the game against Singapore as springboard to start winning.
"We know for us it will be a difficult match but we will try to do our best, because we want to do our best to qualify for the Asian Cup in Australia and we want to start from here," he asserted.
"I hope to do the best and we try to play [our best] and absolutely I will try to win. Every coach, like my friend (Stange) said, when he goes to play, [they only] think about winning and we have also come to win."Stange is under no illusions that Syria are the better team on paper, but he is adamant he will not send the Lions out to defend as he continues to impress upon them an "international" style of combinational football.
"If you play against stronger opponents, you cannot run in the open knife and we will not do that," he said.
"It means we will have to control our defence with a lot of youngsters, but we will try to manage a result. It will be a balancing act as we have a balance between youngsters and experienced players.
"But all our strategy is [about] looking forward for a bright future for our football. Don’t forget what I said the very first day: there is a very big rock, and we have to work together to move this rock in the right direction.
"We have to work together as a team and we are on a good direction, and I am personally full of optimism and nobody can stop me."