Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Raddy prepares for Vietnam

Avramovic looks for balance, Calisto seeks efficiency

The Lions face Vietnam tonight at 7.30pm at the Jurong East Stadium in the Tiger Beer challenge Trophy, in what will be their last home match before they start their bid to defend the Asean crown in the AFF Suzuki Cup from Dec 5-28.

Radojko Avramovic’s side will travel to Petaling Jaya to take on Malaysia at the MPPJ Stadium on Saturday in their final friendly before opening the AFF Suzuki Cup on Dec 5 against Cambodia in Group A.

The Serb has only had his charges in training for four days since Nov 22, and this game will be an exploratory one, in which he looks to find the right balance and fit for his team.

“I am looking to see how the team plays tactically, and to see how players co-operate with each other,” said the 58-year-old. “We need to find partnerships not only in attack, but also in midfield and defence.”

Avramovic was experimenting with skipper Indra Sahdan on the right side of midfield in training yesterday and the move looked a good one on the training pitch, but it remains to be seen if it will work against international opposition.

“Indra on the right looks like it can be quite interesting, he’s got a good pass on him, and can also drift inside,” said Avramovic. “But we’ll see.”

Shi Jiayi is set to start on the left side of midfield to make way for Indra, with Noh Alam Shah and Agu Casmir the probable starting strike pairing.

Precious Emuejeraye is still lacking match fitness, having only recently returned from knee and ankle surgery, and he looks to get a game in central defence with Geylang United’s Baihakki Khaizan.

The Lions’ defensive pairing will have to contend with the nippy Le Cong Vinh, Vietnam’s chief striker who can trouble any defence with his turn of pace and agility.

Vietnam coach Henrique Calisto has yet to register a win with the Vietnamese side since he took over in April of this year, and Le will be vital to the team if they are to register their first win under the Portuguese tonight.

But the 55-year-old will not be too bothered by the result, whatever it will be.

“I don’t care about the result, what I want if for my players to play effectively and play well,” said Calisto. “What’s important are the results at the Suzuki Cup, not here.”

Calisto admitted that his team is a work in progress, and he is still trying to find its feet. “I’m a new coach, with new players, trying to find a new system, it will take time,” he said. “But usually teams play weak opponents in their last game to boost morale, but that’s not right. Singapore are one of the strongest teams in the region, and I want to test my team.”

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