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 By Kenneth Tan

Singapore should have worked harder to protect Asian Cup lead - Sundram

Jason Dasey and PJ Roberts evaluate the International Champions Cup's expansion into Singapore and how it can improve.

Head coach V. Sundramoorthy says fatigue contributed Singapore conceding a late equaliser in the 1-1 home draw against Turkmenistan in the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers on Tuesday night.

The Lions had looked good for the three points after Shakir Hamzah's 63rd-minute strike. But they spurned a couple of gilt-edged opportunities before Altymyrat Annadurddyyev's strike eight minutes from time ensured the visitors grabbed a share of the spoils at Jalan Besar Stadium.

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"Basically, we had the chances to finish and we created more than Turkmenistan did," Sundram said. "If we had scored a second goal, it would have been okay and we can protect a two-goal lead.

"Anything is possible at 1-0 and we were tiring faster than the opponents did. We should have worked harder during the last quarter.

"For the equaliser, their striker [Annadurddyvev] ran in between the lines. I think two players were ball-watching before the ball was slotted in."

Sundramoorthy was, however, pleased with his side's overall display in his new 3-4-3 formation and believes it gives them confidence ahead of the return game in Ashgabat on Oct. 10.

Shakir Hamzah, right, put Singapore ahead just after the hour at Jalan Besar Stadium.

With two points from three outings, Singapore will likely need two wins out of their three remaining games to reach for United Arab Emirates in 2019.

The Lions have won just twice in 18 games since Sundramoorthy took over from Bernd Stange in May 2016.

"We should line up this way at home with more options on the flanks," he said. "Shakir [Hamzah] and Nazrul [Nazari] offered the speed to go through, Safuwan can win headers in attack, Hariss [Harun] and Izzdin [Shafiq] were good holding midfielders.

"Hariss led by example and could even play for another 45 minutes if the game went on. Zulfahmi [Arifin], who is more of a midfielder, did well in defence and hardly put a foot wrong.

"The boys are more confident going forward now and they will need to keeping believing in themselves. More or less, we could have beaten Turkmenistan and we will take the game to them [in the away game].

"We need to study them again and come up with a plan how to counter them. The table is still open."

Kenneth Tan is a Singapore-based football writer on S.League and AFC Cup for ESPN FC and FourFourTwo. Twitter: @KennerveT

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