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The Singapore Under-23 coach pointed out that it was still early days for his side as they gear up to gun for a first-ever gold medal in the competition

His side appear to have started their preparations for the year-end SEA Games well, but Singapore Under-23 coach V. Sundramoorthy indicated that it was still early days.

“The boys have just started training for a few days, they need time to gel together and they have six months ahead,” he said.
 
“We need to really prepare the boys [well]] to have a shot at the SEA Games [gold medal].”

Sundram was speaking after watching his side edge their Philippines counterparts 1-0 in a friendly on Thursday evening at the Hougang Stadium, having earlier drawn with the Indonesians 1-1 in Solo on Sunday.

“Philippines have improved so much; there are no easy games in this SEA Games anymore,” he claimed, as his side took victory with a first-half header from centreback Safuwan Baharudin.

“A win is a win [and it] doesn’t matter how many goals we score. We played as a team.

“I think Hariss [Harun] did well as captain, we fought hard [and] Safuwan was great behind [and] so was Izwan [Mahbud, who was] really stable. I think these boys, for me, are the backbone of the team.”

Hariss and Safuwan were also singled out by Philippines U23 assistant coach Dan Padernal as the Singapore players to have caught his eye after the game.

Of course, there is the issue of the team not actually having gained the approval of the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) for the competition in Myanmar, but Sundram was optimistic about their chances.

“It’s still early days [and] we have six more months, [so] we’ll try our best to prepare the boys and do our best [to get approval],” he said.

The former Singapore striker also praised the “very good” Philippines side for giving them a hard time with their pressing game, before indicating that he would give every player a chance to make the final squad.

“Not really,” Sundram responded when asked whether he had finalised a team.

“We have a list of 40 players [and] we have many talented players in the Courts Young Lions, which I didn’t use today because they had a game yesterday. I think they were really tired and we will use them in future games to give them a good run-out and finalise the team.

“We used a different set of players [and] we had many changes today. We brought in the national [team] boys and [for] the other side [against Indonesia] we used most of the Young Lions boys and [some] LionsXII boys, so we are giving everybody a run-out for the important SEA Games.”

The U23s are scheduled to play the Indonesians again on July 15 on Singapore soil.

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