Lee Lim Saeng: Not easy to play possession football

The Home United coach believes local pitches are not conducive for a passing game, while his Geylang International counterpart praised his team's efforts despite their 2-1 loss
Home United coach Lee Lim Saeng was satisfied with his team’s comeback against Geylang International after two goals in the last quarter of the game saw them win 2-1 on Thursday night.
“My players found it very difficult to find the space [to attack] in the first half because the opponents dropped all [their] players [back] in the defensive area,” he pointed out.

“We needed to change the system [but] anyway we came back to win so I'm very happy to see the second-half performance.”

The Protectors’ high-tempo pressing game is a style of play the Korean has implemented, and he insists they can still get better.

“Now [that] we have increased our fitness, I respect the players’ effort but I [have] already talk[ed] with [the] players [and told them] we are not there, that’s why we should be humble to catch up to the next level [and] that’s why I push them to press on the ball to the last minute,” Lee said.

The ex-Korean international has also tried to get his team to play possession-based football, which he admits is hard to execute on local pitches.

“Frankly speaking, it’s not easy on this [kind of] pitch in Singapore but we are trying to concentrate in holding the ball,” Lee pointed out.

“Maybe you can say we made a lot of mistakes in passing but as you watch our play, we always dominate the possession even if we lose the ball. It’s not easy to hold the ball too long on this pitch but anyway I don’t want to use [it as an] excuse; we will try our best to train [harder] during practice.”

His Geylang counterpart Vedhamuthu Kanan praised his team’s efforts even as he bemoaned how the result didn’t match their endeavors.

“I thought [we could] at least [get] a draw [and] we’ll be very happy,” he lamented.

“They have six locals, all are national and ex-national [players] and five foreigners; we started out [with] only two foreigners outfield and the goalkeeper [together] with all the young boys and I think we did superb[ly] in keeping them away from our goal.

“In fact I think they didn’t have any clear chances [even though] they had [more] possession… I'm very happy with my boys. I cannot ask more from them with such an opponent.

“Of course I'm very sad to go away with zero points but we [have] got two more meetings with them in the Singapore Cup and we will not give it easy to them.”

Kanan also said that his team would strive to finish in the top six, although it would not be easy.

“It’s quite tough but it’s not impossible also; we are [on] 18 points [now] so we got one game in hand, so if we start winning - we have Hougang [to play] next - so maybe we [will] have a slim chance of [finishing in the] top-six,” he pointed out.

“Of course we cannot go near the top four teams [and] I think after this game Home United will break away. So we have five teams vying for the one spot, which is not going to be easy.”

Kanan also believes with some astute acquisitions next season, his team would be a force to reckon with.

“This is the second loss after 12 games [so] I think [there have been] superb performances from these young boys,” he said.

“Most of them are playing for the first time in this S.league… so I think credit to all my players. I think if I keep this team next year with some good additions, we will have a very good team.”