Duric: Scoring could be Singapore's problem at SEA Games

The former Singapore striker says Aide Iskandar's men lack a prolific striker and thinks hosts Myanmar will be one of the toughest teams as they will have fierce home support
Veteran striker Aleksandar Duric believes the lack of firepower in the Singapore Under-23 team could cost them in the upcoming SEA Games.

The U23s struggled in recent warm-up friendlies against Cambodia and Hougang United, only scoring twice in three games. In fact, in the six preceding matches they have played before those games, the Young Lions have only scored more than once on one occasion - a 2-1 win against a Thailand Selection in the Merdeka Cup in September.

Duric, who was in Cambodia recently on to pass on his football know-how to aspiring youths, says the inability to find the back of the net could hurt Aide Iskandar's charges.

"Singapore, we have a good team, but there are some small problems in scoring goals," he told Phnom Penh-based online news, Thmey Thmey News when asked about the SEA Games.

"We don’t have any prolific striker and that I guess will be a small problem."

Strikers Shahfiq Ghani and Sahil Suhaimi are expected to lead the line in Naypyidaw when Singapore begin their campaign against Laos on December 8, but neither have been particularly proficient in front of goal in 2013.

Shahfiq struck six times in 19 matches for the LionsXII, and scored for the Singapore senior team in a 6-1 loss to China. Sahil only scored once in the S.League for the Courts Young Lions. Teammates Fareez Farhan and Iqbal Hussain have only two goals each to their name, while targetman Khairul Nizam will miss the Games after failing to recover from injury.

The 43-year-old has singled out hosts Myanmar as the team to beat, although he feels the competition will be close overall.

"Myanmar, I think, as the hosts are the hot favorites," Duric said.

"I mean, you are playing in a full stadium and I know Myanmar fans are really crazy about football so I guess the players must give 300% on the field!

"I believe Thailand will be there, I don’t know much about Vietnam honestly; they usually are quite good, but I believe Myanmar will be one of the toughest [to beat].

"These SEA Games will be very tight, most teams are very balanced and I tell you there will be lots of upsets.

"It’s difficult to say [who will win], but it will be interesting this year."

Malaysia have won the past two editions while Thailand won the previous four tournaments before that, ever since the competition was made a U23 one in 2001.

Singapore have been drawn in Group A with Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. They will next face the Philippines U23s in a charity game this Sunday.