The Singapore coach believes the new Sports Hub facility is something for the country to be proud of and hopes the Lions' style of play will help to pack the 55,000-seater venueHow do you fill a spanking new 55,000-seater National Stadium? There's only one way, according to Singapore coach Bernd Stange - and that is by playing attacking football.
The German was speaking at the first football-themed event to be held at the new Sports Hub facility on Tuesday evening, where former and current Lions had a kick-about together with their youth counterparts on the state-of-the-art hybrid grass pitch.
Situated in the area where the old Kallang Stadium was at, the Singapore national team will now be charged with the task of drawing the fans when they take to the field in upcoming football games.
Stange has preached an offensive, fast-paced game since taking over the reins last May and while he acknowledges it will be a "big challenge", he firmly believes that is the way forward to go.
"If you want to attract 55,000 people, you don’t do it with defending," he asserted. "That is no way; maybe for one or two matches, but if you want to attract people to join our game, you have to play attractive football and we try to teach that.
"It starts with the youth development, it continues later and it’s a long, long way to go for Singapore football, and if you have such a stadium, there are less and less excuses not to deliver top-class football.
"This stadium is in the right place. Kallang has a tradition in Singaporean football and we should try to bring the Kallang Roar back. It means we have to convince people to fill this stadium."
The 66-year-old likened the venue to world-class icons like the Stade de France and Wembley and feels it is a place that "all Singaporeans" can be proud of, while expressing his satisfaction with the playing surface.
"As a football coach, the most important thing for me is the football pitch and this is the first pitch in Singapore that is comfortable for international football," Stange stated.
"I am absolutely sure that our players have not experienced playing on this kind of grass. The grass will be watered before the game and the game is extremely fast. All the other things are fine, it’s perfect, but all that is not football. Football is here, played on the green surface. That’s the most important."
Stange will have the opportunity to test out the field on August 16, when he picks a Singapore Selection side to face Serie A champions Juventus on August 16 in a friendly to open the National Stadium. The AFF Suzuki will follow come the end of the year and he wants his players to stand up to the pressure that will come with heightened expectations and a huge crowd.
"If you cannot keep pressure in football, it’s better to take another job," he firmly said. "You have to be tough and you have to be happy to play these matches."