A jubilant Bernd Stange heaped praise upon his Singapore squad following their draw against a profligate Japan on Tuesday night.
The historical away result came from none other than the four-time Asian champions, who could not find the back of the net despite nearly 30 shots over the course of the match.
“We achieved today an unexpected result and [caused] a small sensation,” Stange said after the match. “We were well-prepared for enormous pressure from Japan, especially in the beginning and in the first 20 minutes of the second half.
“I told my boys at halftime that if we can overcome that, a sensation would be possible.
“We had such massive defending, and we tried to keep the ball without any silly or needless fouls. We didn’t even have a yellow card. We did it in a proper way, controlled and good.”
The former Iraq coach, who took the reigns at Singapore following their 2012 AFC Suzuki Cup triumph, credited the draw to goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud, who drew attention from Japanese media following a flawless performance.
“He’s a young man and I think he will attract [the attention of] big clubs soon], because he was a former striker and his reactions are amazing,” Stange said. “He’s a big part of the team and did a brilliant job. I expect him to be playing in Japan very soon.”
The German coach was the first to admit that the scoreless draw was not necessarily entertaining for all involved.
“The way we played [was] not very attractive for neutral supporters, but what can we do?” he asked. “What do you expect from a team ranked 154th in the world, coming to Japan in front of 63,000 [fans]? That we play attacking football and lose 4-0?
“We did what we can do, and that’s why I can be really proud of my team.”