Friday, 21 December 2012

Avramovic wants no let-up by Lions

Bangkok – Singapore may be in a strong position to win the AFF Suzuki Cup final for a record fourth time after building a two-goal advantage against Thailand but coach Radojko Avramovic has insisted that there will be no let-up by his players in the second leg in Bangkok on Saturday.

The Lions seized the initiative at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday when Baihakki Khaizan’s stoppage-time strike gave them a 3-1 lead against the previously unbeaten Thais.

No team has lost from that sort of position in previous Asean Football Championship finals and Avramovic, who also led Singapore to victory in 2004 and 2007, is determined to see his side close out the deal once again at the Supachalasai Stadium.

“It was our wish to be here in the final and now this is a game in which we hope to achieve our target and our wishes,” said the Serbian, who has been at the helm for the Lions since 2003.

“We have a small advantage at the moment but this is a new game. It’s normal that Thailand will try to do everything to win this game but at the same time, we will try to keep the result as it is at the moment so at the end, we can celebrate.”

Despite his team’s two-goal cushion, Avramovic said that his players will not be looking to try to sit back and defend their lead for 90 minutes.

“In every game in this competition, we have been trying to score goals,” he said. “I don’t think that for any result, you can sit back and think it is finished. If you don’t try to score goals, in the end you will be punished.

“If we have opportunities to try to score, we will try to score. But it will also be important that we don’t give any chances to our opponents to score.”

The Singapore squad features several players who were part of Avramovic’s victorious squads previously including Daniel Bennett, Khairul Amri, Baihakki Khaizan and captain Shahril Ishak and he is confident that they have the poise and the experience necessary to handle the big occasion and not allow complacency to creep in.

“I think this team have developed well and they are a mature team. I just hope that we continue in this game as we have started every other game in this competition,” he said.

“If you look back at our games in this competition against Malaysia and Thailand, we played good games, really quality games. I think that all teams in those situations try to do their best and I don’t see any reason why it will not happen for us again in the game tomorrow.”

While he has spoken about his delight at his current team for defying their critics to reach the final, he would not be drawn into comparing them to his victorious sides of the past.

“It’s a different time. I think that in each of those competitions we had different players and different opponents and now, this is a new challenge and a new competition,” he said.

“For our boys this is their time and I am very happy with how they are developing and how they are getting together and that is one of the reasons that we are in the final.

“I think that in some ways, we surprised everyone but this team is a mixture that is very different from the teams that we have had in previous competitions.”

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