Singapore look to channel fighting spirit in Australia AFC U23 showdown

Coach Richard Tardy insists that all is not lost if Singapore channel the fighting spirit shown in the opening 2-0 defeat to Myanmar into Friday's crunch match against Australia at the AFC Under-23 qualifying tournament.

The Singaporeans had their chances on Wednesday night in the torrential rain in Yangon, and were pushing for an equaliser before conceding a late, second goal against the hosts.

With only the 10 group winners and the five best runners up joining host nation China in January's 16-nation tournament, Tardy admits that the game against the Young Socceroos will make or break the Young Lions' chances.

Australia began with an unimpressive 2-0 victory over minnows Brunei on Wednesday night.

"If we repeat the same fighting spirit we showed tonight, we can do something on Friday," Tardy told The New Paper. "We must prepare for Australia and rebuild our players' confidence for the next game."

The Singaporeans did well to match the talented Myanmarese in a goalless first half, and were desperately unlucky not to see the home side reduced to 10 men just before half-time.

Myanmar centre-back Thiha Htet Aung somehow received only a yellow card after what appeared to be a deliberate stamp on Muhaimin Suhaimi in an off-the-ball incident, sparking a wild melee.

"It was difficult, but the team tried to do their best," Tardy added.

"They fought hard physically but, technically, we did not keep the ball well enough. The pitch was not good and we faced a good team in Myanmar.

"Things could have been different if we had scored from one or two good chances we had, and they finished us on the counter attack."

Ikhsan Fandi and Adam Swandi both had a couple of good opportunities to score for the Singaporeans, who can take heart from their spirited efforts in difficult conditions against a tough opponent.

Although Gerd Zeise's side lost 2-0 in a friendly to Malaysia at Shah Alam last week, they rested key players in preparation for these qualifiers.

And several members of their U23 squad are also regulars in the senior national team, who are now 12 places above Singapore in the FIFA rankings at 157th.