The Singapore Under-23s were restricted to only a slender one-goal victory by their Philippines counterparts at the Hougang Stadium on Thursday night.
The visitors were helmed by assistant coach Dan Padernal, who was standing in for head coach Brian Reid as the latter was on duty in the domestic league with Global FC in a must-win match against Kaya FC to have any chance of retaining the league title.
Despite the loss, Padernal was not about to have a sleepless night as he felt his charges had gave their best and came close to snatching a result.
“I am not disappointed and we could have won the game and in the second half, we adapted ourselves in attack," he said.
“We just assembled this team two weeks ago and this is our first match but this is not our final squad yet. We will see you in Philippines for the second match.
“Some of the other regulars, and better players, are playing in the United Football League and they are having their matches for the championship right now.
“We did not have any natural strikers in the match so we relied heavily on Mark Hartmann moving up and down in midfield and also upfront.
“We were also very lucky in the game but these young boys are hardworking and we have to improve in how we switch from defence to attack and finish it [the moves] off."
Padermal also praised the hosts and pointed out their greatest strength on the field.
“The strongest ‘player’ is their team; they can’t beat us individually but they can do so as a team," he claimed.
“I rate Singapore 9 out of 10 because they have very good players and were composed and many of them are also number one in the M.League [with the LionsXII].”
Singapore U23 coach V. Sundramoorthy also acknowledged that their opponents had given them a tough time on the pitch.
"They are a very good team and it’s a surprise to see them [play this way]," he said.
"They were really pressing up [and they are] starting to play soccer.
“It is really good to see Philippines improve so much and they gave us a game."
Padernal then turned his attention to his team once again and gave two players a mention during the post-match interview.
“I was surprised with Jeremy Theuer who played very well in the center of midfield," he said.
"He is small but he played it smart. Angelo Marasigan is [also] very small but he has a big heart. He runs so fast on the wing, but he needs to at times pause and think when and where to run too.
“Marasigan is an attacking-minded player but he has to help with the defence too, as football is not all about offensive [play].”
According to Philippines Football Federation general secretary Ed Gastanes, the two sides are scheduled to meet again in the Philippines, with the exact date yet to be confirmed.