The Singapore national team bounced back from Wednesday's shock loss to record the first win of their Japan training tour on Thursday.
V. Sundramoorthy's side produced an improved performance to defeat Japan Soccer College 2-0 in Niigata, with both goals coming during an intense first half hour.
It was the perfect response from the four-time ASEAN champions, who were stunned 3-2 by unheralded Niigata University of Health and Welfare 24 hours earlier, as they were kept scoreless in the second half with Sundram experimenting with different combinations.
Another good run-out for the Lions today, as Fazrul Nawaz and Hafiz Nor scored to give the team a 2-0 victory over Japan Soccer College - Albirex Niigata's second team, which competes in the top regional Hokushinetsu Football League. "I'm happy to get a win, but like I've been saying all along, results are not the important thing on this training camp. Almost the entire squad - 23 out of 25 - has now had some playing time, and I was able to try many different things against some strong opponents. "They may be university teams, but all Japanese teams are strong, fit and technically good - in fact, I believe a Japan University Team beat some top clubs in the region earlier this year so I'm pleased with how the team did," said coach V. Sundram Moorthy. FT score: Japan Soccer College 0-2 Singapore (Fazrul Nawaz 5', Hafiz Nor 29')
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But on Thursday, the Lions grew in confidence after an early goal from experienced striker Fazrul Nawaz. The in-form Tampines Rovers man struck in the fifth minute.
And then, as Japan Soccer College pushed for an equaliser on the counter attack, the Singaporeans doubled their advantage when Hafiz Nor netted in the 29th minute.
Perhaps the most pleasing aspect for Sundram was a clean sheet in the afternoon kickoff, in hot and humid conditions, after their disjointed defensive performance the previous day.
Japan Soccer College were decent opponents -- they are effectively the second team of J-League club Albirex Niigata -- and had recorded some good recent results against professional sides.
Sundram told the FAS website: "They may be university teams, but all Japanese teams are strong, fit and technically good. In fact, I believe a Japan University Team beat some top clubs in the region earlier this year so I'm pleased with how the team did."
The Lions can take confidence from the result as they prepare for the toughest test of their three-match tour of Sunday -- a game against Albirex Niigata at the Denka Big Swan Stadium.
Some analysts had questioned the wisdom of facing university teams in the lead up to the clash with Albirex Niigata. But Sundram has used the tour to give competitive exposure to all but two of his squad.
"I'm happy to get a win, but like I've been saying all along, results are not the important thing on this training camp," he said.
"Almost the entire squad -- 23 out of 25 -- has now had some playing time, and I was able to try many different things against some strong opponents."
Japan Soccer College compete in the top regional Hokushinetsu Football League and can provide a pathway for the standout players to progress to the J-League.
Because it is not an official international break, Singapore are without some of their seasoned veterans, who are busy with club action in Southeast Asian domestic leagues. Hariss Harun (JDT, Malaysia), Baihakki Khaizan (JDT II, Malaysia), Safuwan Baharudin (PDRM FA, Malaysia) and Hassan Sunny (Army United, Thailand) are all missing.
Apart from the friendly against Cambodia in Phnom Penh on July 28, Singapore will play a handful of other internationals in September and October as they prepare for November's AFF Suzuki Cup.