New Singapore coach Stange faces difficult Oman task in competitive debut

The German will square off against his former employers but won't be under any illusions about the tough task he has in the Lions' second group game of the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers


Faritz, Safuwan, Baihakki, Hafiz
Isa, Hariss
Amri, Shahril, Qiu Li

AL Rashidi
Al. Jalaboubi, A. Al Mukaini, Al Owaisi
Al Farsi, Saleh, Hardan, Hadri, S. Al Mukaini
Al Muqbali, Al Ajmi

New Singapore coach Bernd Stange will face his first real test on Wednesday when he leads his team out at the Jalan Besar Stadium against Oman.

The Lions will take on the Red Warriors in the German's competitive debut as they play the second of their 2015 AFC Asian Cup Group A qualifiers, having lost the opener to Jordan in a 4-0 drubbing.

Interim coach V. Sundramoorthy presided over that defeat in Amman and things have changed since Stange took over in mid-May.

The German led Singapore to 2-0 and 5-2 friendly wins over Myanmar and Laos respectively in his first two games in charge, while also handing teen starlet Adam Swandi a shock call-up and subsequent debut at just 17 years of age.

That was an indication that the 65-year-old Stange would follow through on his promise when he was first unveiled to blood youth into the national set-up with an eye on the future, in addition to introducing a new style of play.

Stange's philsophy of attacking football and high-pressure systems has also resulted in a heavy focus on fitness in order to enable players to keep up with his demands, and supporters will be keen to see how things play out against Oman.

Balestier Khalsa forward Qiu Li, who has been in impressive form in the league this season, should get the nod to start together with Home United striker Indra Sahdan in attack. The latter will be hoping to find the back of the net against Oman, a feat he achieved in the last meeting between both sides, which ended in a 4-1 loss.

Hafiz Sujad should get the nod at left-back with regular Shaiful Esah and Shakir Hamzah both unavailable, while the central defensive duo of Baihakki Khaizan and Safuwan Baharudin will have to be at their best together with goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud.

Meanwhile Oman are looking to make it two wins in a row, having seen off Syria 1-0 in their first group game at home.

Coach Paul Le Guen and his charges flew in one week ahead of this game to prepare, having already started centralised training on July 20. He will have to do without Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, while vice-captain Ahmed Mubarak is struggling to be fit.

Their last competitive game was a 1-0 defeat to Jordan in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, but the Omanis were unbeaten in five matches prior to that.

It will be an uphill task for Stange despite home advantage but supporters will hope to see the Lions put up a good showing as they start to get used to life under the German.