BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
He may only be leading Singapore as the head coach for the duration of the Airmarine Cup, but Nazri Nasir is nevertheless elated that his temporary charges were able to one up their Causeway rivals Malaysia.
Malaysia vs Singapore match highlights
Taking over from Fandi Ahmad who is currently away with the republic's U-22 side for the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers, the former Singapore international was overjoyed that his men were able to weather the hosts' onslaught, before inflicting the killing blow late in their Wednesday encounter.
"Even when I was a player, playing against Malaysia was always a rivalry that we had to win. I remember them beating us 4-0 at the National Stadium (Singapore's former home ground), how embarrassing it was. This is something that we wanted for tonight.
"Putting aside the matter of ranking [points], of course that was also part of the motivation, but the Singapore-Malaysia rivalry was still important," said the 48-year old trainer in the post-match press conference.
Commenting on the win, Nazri remarked that his team was able to identify what worked for them and what didn't in the encounter.
"Playing against Malaysia on their own home ground is always hard, especially when my players could only gather two days before the match. We had a few chances in the first half, so at halftime I told them to make the chances count in international games. I told them not to give the ball away cheaply, to keep possession and to wait for the right moment.
"Malaysia's attacks kept coming in the second half and I had to make some changes. I put on fresh legs, the younger boys in the centre midfield, just to avoid conceding and hoped that they would be able to break on the counter attacks.
"I had to believe in my players, when I was appointed to lead them in the tournament three weeks ago. I told them I trusted them, even if they only get to play for five or ten minutes, if they could chase down attackers and stop chances, I'd be happy with that. And tonight they showed that they wanted to win, and they deserve the result," remarked Nazri.
The Lions will next play against recent Asian Cup participants Oman in the final on Saturday, March 23.
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