'We will win it' - Singapore coach Radojko Avramovic signals his intent for the Causeway Challenge

“It’s good to have the local rivalry, it helps to develop the players on the both teams,” said Raddy Avramovic, Singapore’s head coach at the pre-match press conference, though he stressed that the rivalry should remain within the boundaries of sporting conduct, for each side to optimally benefit from the fixtures.

Avramovic will be using these fixtures as an opportunity to blood new players into the international scene, making no less than six changes to his starting eleven.

The coach expressed optimism over his younger charges, and revealed that they needed time to adjust to the change of pace at the international level.

“There’s higher intensity, and a lot more pressure when we lose the ball," added the long-serving Serbian.

"A lot of them are showing potential; we just need to give them time.”

There’s an air of excitement over the players, best expressed by team captain Baihakki Khaizan.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s game,” he said.

“We will give our best!”

The lengthy injury list can be seen as a boon to the fringe players, as it gives them a platform to make their mark on the international scene.

The players’ optimism looks to have infected the coach as well. When asked if he would make any changes to his tactics, Avramovic answered confidently: “Just one. We will win (the game).”

The coach looks to continue his policy of playing possession football, and hopes that in doing so his side will be able to create more goal-scoring chances.

Midfield dynamo Hariss Harun, who was sorely missed in the last game, looks set to partner Mustafic Fahrudin in the middle of the park, providing a stable base for the Lions to pounce into attack.

Following a string of poor performances in the World Cup Qualifiers, Malaysia come into this game looking to get back to winning ways.

“It’s time for us to make amends” said striker Safee Sali.

“This is an opportunity for us to prove our quality.”

The forward is looking to end his goal drought tomorrow night.

“I feel confident,” he said. “Hopefully I can put the ball in the back of the net.”

Malaysia Coach Rajagopal remained coy over his side’s chances saying: “Their Lions XII has gained experience playing in Malaysian League, and they’re playing at home."

"They know our play, we know their play. It depends on how the players perform,” he said, before cheekily adding, “It depends on tomorrow’s weather!”

He also played down the effects of Singapore’s loss against Hong Kong.

“A game against Malaysia is a different scenario,” said the AFF Cup winning coach, emphasising the strong rivalry between the two sides. 

“I’m really excited to see what happens tomorrow night.”

The first leg of the Causeway Challenge will kickoff at 7.45pm Friday evening, at Jalan Besar Stadium. The return leg will be played in Shah Alam on June 12.

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