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Shamir Osman
Friday, Jun 6, 2014

Sports

Football: Six steps too far

The New Paper | Shamir Osman | Friday, Jun 6, 2014

Lions Football coach Bernd Stange.

It was supposed to be "a test for men, not for children" - a match aimed at proving to the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) that his charges are worthy of a ticket to the Incheon Asian Games from Sept 19 to Oct 4.

Ahead of a friendly against France's Under-21 side yesterday morning (Singapore time), national coach Bernd Stange said that it was "important to show how good" his team were.

But, after a 6-0 thumping in the Reunion Island, the German can only pay tribute to the hosts' speed of passing and physical superiority.

"The game against the France U-21 side showed us the level we will need to aim for," said the 66-year-old Stange.

"I would be pleased to play more of these high-level football (teams) in preparation for (November's) AFF Suzuki Cup and the (2015) South-east Asia Games."

Stange and the Under-23 side - bolstered by five senior players (three are allowed according to Asian Games rules) - made the 20-hour journey to the French isle just off the east coast of Africa, but were on the receiving end of a footballing lesson from an even younger French side helmed by former Bayern Munich fullback Willy Sagnol.

Samuel Umtiti opened the scoring - and the floodgates - in the 21st minute, ghosting past a static defence and heading home.

Paul-Georges N'tep (23rd, 36th) and Kingsley Coman (44th) combined to make it 4-0 at the break, with Florian Thauvin (55th) and Neal Maupay (64th) rounding up the scoring for the French.

To earn the nod for the Incheon Asiad, the SNOC has called for teams to show that they can be competitive against opponents ranked sixth in Asia and, while the Stange had earlier revealed that the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) is lining up two more matches, no confirmed opponents or dates were made available.

TOP LEVEL

Even though the defeat came against younger opponents, the French side were clearly streets ahead in their football development - with some players in their ranks already having already made appearances at the top level in France.

Stange believes that there is much to be gained testing his charges against such opponents.

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