Sundram bemoans pitch conditions after Merdeka Cup defeat

The Young Lions coach laid blame on the waterlogged pitch and the unavailability of several key players for the defeat to Malaysia
The Singapore U23 team went down 1-0 on Saturday evening in the opening match of the Merdeka Cup at the Darul Makmur Stadium.

With Malaysian Prime Minister Dato' Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak in attendance, the Young Tigers clinched victory with an early second-half goal via Thamil Arasu Ambumamee.

But for those watching the game the unusual sight of players struggling to string passes together on the extrememly waterlogged pitch was far more distracting then the spectacle of football.

Heavy showers prior to kick-off, and continued rainy conditions during match time, worsened conditions and players had a noticeably difficult time connecting with the ball and even staying on their feet, something that both coaches agreed made for a very poor match.

However, Young Lions coach V.Sundramoorthy was a little more vocal, as he laid the blame of defeat on the state of the pitch as well as the unavailability of several players.

"The pitch conditions made it very hard for us and we were missing several key players and Malaysia did well to capitalise on that," said the LionsXII coach.

"The pitch conditions didn't allow us to play our natural game. However, the players showed their determination to adapt to the pitch.
"We were without seven players. We'll be back to full strength in the second game. With Izwan out, Syazwan did really well with several key saves, he's a bright young goalkeeper.
Overall, i am proud of my boys and we would've done better if the pitch was better."

But Sundram also readily accepted that his side had started the second period of play on the back foot and that played a part in their defeat as well, as he added: "My team was asleep early in the second-half which caused us to concede the goal."

Harimau Muda coach Ong Kim Swee on the other hand, offered praise to his opponents and admitted that the poor state of the pitch had affected his side as well.

"The presence of our Prime Minister in the dressing room gave a good impact on us," said Ong of the Malaysian PM's attendance.

"Only four players are from Harimau Muda while the rest are from Malaysian clubs. A great team need time to gel. Look at Singapore, they have formed a good undertanding with each other that they never lose conceding more than two goals.
Ong also went on to add that the continued rainy weather in the region during the monsoon season means players have to adapt to the conditions for future matches, in particular the SEA Games.
"Most importantly, we have secured the three points today," he concluded.

"We would've played better with a better pitch, but it's a good lesson for us as who knows how the pitch conditions in Myanmar for the SEA Games will be. The players will have to learn to adapt their gameplay."

Singapore next take on Thailand Selection on Monday while Malaysia face-off against Myanmar U23. Both the Thai and Myanmar teams played out a 1-1 draw on Saturday night.