In the end, the Jalan Besar Stadium artificial turf did not serve any favours for the Lion City Sailors.
In front of a newly minted President and with owner Forrest Li in tow, the Sailors did not exactly get off to the best of starts in their Asian Football Confederation Champions League Group F after bowing 1-2 to Thailand’s Bangkok United at the football headquarters.
The general consensus was the Sailors were over-run by the Thai side, and struggled to find their footing.
Few real chances were created, but to be fair, the Sailors also held out for as long as they could, with Zharfan Rohaizad being protected by a five-man front line.
In the end, even with five foreign players on the pitch, the Sailors found the going tough, even though Diego Lopes gave the Sailors a half-time lead, and provided their Army with cheer as they went into the break.
Bangkok’s Everton Saturnino and Thitiphan Puangjan’s effort from outside the box were enough to give the Thai side all three points.
Head coach Aleksandar Rankovic felt that the team did not deserve to lose though.
“Looking at the whole game, I think we didn’t really deserve to lose, especially after the first goal, we really stood our ground and didn’t allow Bangkok to create any chances,” he told the Straits Times.
“Of course, we have to learn in this competition that every mistake can be crucial.”
He admitted that he tinkered with the formation for a crucial match, opting for a 5-4-1 instead of their usual 4-3-3 which they employ in the Singapore Premier League.
Bangkok United coach Totchtawan Sripan, whose side are currently top of the Thai League 1 table said, “In the first half, we tried to adjust to the pitch, and at half-time we made some tactical changes in terms of getting used to the artificial pitch.
“We’re happy to go back home with three points.”
The Lion City Sailors’ next Group F clash is against Hong Kong’s Kitchee FC away on 4 October.
PHOTOS: ASIAN FOOTBALL CONFEDERATION