Lady luck shone on victorious Singapore, says Avramovic
A little bit of luck and a huge dose of determination helped Singapore secure a record fourth AFF Suzuki Cup crown with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Thailand in the final, according to outgoing coach Radojko Avramovic.
The Lions laid the platform for the triumph with a 3-1 win in the first leg and dogged defence in the face of almost constant pressure at Bangkok’s Supachalasai Stadium restricted Thailand to a 1-0 victory on Saturday.
“In some ways we were a bit lucky and without luck and the determination of the players to win the trophy, I do not think we would have achieved this victory,” said Avramovic, who also led Singapore to the title in 2004 and 2007.
“I really must say a big thanks to the players. In the end they did everything on the field. In some ways it is good working with players who trust you and I trust them.
“In the end they achieved what I was telling them that we could achieve and that is good.”
He singled out central defenders Baihakki Khaizan and Safuwan Baharudin for praise after the duo repelled attack after attack from Thailand.
“Baihakki and Safuwan were under pressure all the time,” he said. “They were really secure and they dealt with high balls into the penalty box - in the end that is the reason they are playing there (in central defence).”
Avramovic rejected suggestions that Singapore brought nothing to the second leg and insisted that they should have scored on a couple of occasions.
“Our problem was that we did not play enough in their half. Every time it went in their half the ball was lost and that created in some way our troubles as Thailand were trying high balls to break us down,” he said.
“They succeeded once and that was in some ways a lack of concentration in other ways it was a foul as the defender was held and could not actually move.
“In general our biggest problem was we could not keep the ball in their half but we still should have scored a couple of goals. In the second half Shahril Ishak was clear and for me he should have tried for a goal but he passed to Aleksandar Duric, for me that was a good chance.”
Avramovic has steered clear of questions about his future during the AFF Suzuki Cup campaign but confirmed after the history-making title victory that Saturday’s game was his last in charge of the Lions.
“Yes it is going to end tonight,” he said. “I have many happy memories. I must say I was lucky because from 2003 (when he started the job) I had absolutely great support from all the people I was working with. Thanks to all of them. I do not think one man can do all this (by himself). In the end it is the players who have done us all proud and I am very proud that I was their coach.”
And rather than dwell on his own achievement of winning three Asean crowns during nine years in charge, Avramovic said that the team deserved to be called the best in the region.
“Why not (call ourselves the best team in the region),” he said. “I think we deserved the title. We dominated the first game (against Thailand) and scored enough goals to win the title.”
But he parted with a warning that Singapore should not rest on their laurels.
“If you are happy with what you have got now I do not think Singapore will achieve anything (more),” he said
“You have to improve as every other team in the region is improving. If you think you are now best and ‘okay we are there’, it is not right. You must look at ways of improving and there are many areas that can be improved.”