National Team - Lionesses ● Jan 29, 2016

Brave Lionesses Show Heart In Narrow Defeat To Sri Lanka


By Kenneth Tan


SINGAPORE, 29 JANUARY 2016: The Singapore Women’s National Team went down to an unfortunate 1-0 defeat to their Sri Lankan counterparts in an international ‘A’ friendly at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday evening.


In what was their first international match in two years, the Lionesses showed enterprise in their play and dominated their opponents for most of the 90 minutes.


However, the youthful side, with an average age of 23, hit the bar twice and failed to finish off their chances as they eventually lost the game narrowly due to an early goal.


They settled into the game the better of the two sides, showing some fluent passing with wingers Chris Yip-Au and Lim Li Xian stretching the Sri Lankan backline.


But it was the visitors who scored against the run of play in the eighth minute, with PM Perera – under intense pressure from Singapore captain Darvina Halini – bundling the ball past goalkeeper Beatrice Tan from ILEK Liyanage’s left-wing cross.


The Lionesses regrouped thereafter and could have levelled matters on 15 minutes, but forward Priscilla Tan’s ambitious overhead kick was too weak to trouble Sri Lanka keeper AMAS Wijerathna.


The home side proceeded to dominate the rest of the first half and forced a number of corners, but were unable to find the cutting edge in the final third.


There was a golden opportunity on the stroke of half time when Fatin Afiqah forced Sri Lanka centre back IM Withange to concede possession inside her own penalty area, the midfielder was superbly foiled by the onrushing Wijerathna.


The Lionesses carried where they left off after the restart and went agonisingly close on the hour mark.


From a well-worked throw-in from the left, Sitianiwati Rosielin unleashed a stunning first-time volley from the edge of the box that crashed off the top of the bar and went out of play.


Luck continued to elude the Singaporeans as they hit the woodwork for a second time on 73 minutes.


Substitute Khairiah Azhar’s speculative 40-yard free kick looked destined to dip into the top right corner of goal, before Wijerathna somehow tipped it onto the bar.


They continued to pile on the pressure in the dying moments but there was no way past the stout Sri Lankan defence as they fell to a rather undeserved defeat.


Speaking after the match, Singapore coach Chen Caiying was visibly proud of the spirited display from her charges.


“I didn’t expect them to do so well,” she said. “It’s been many years since we played this kind of international match, but they worked very hard and matched their opponents for most of the game.


“They’ve been working hard in training and it showed today. I hope we can have more of these matches to further develop their abilities because these girls have the potential.”


Winger Lim Li Xian echoed her coach’s thoughts and is hoping for more of such sparring matches, before they head off to Myanmar for the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Women’s Championship in July.


The last time Singapore participated in the tournament was in 2012, where they finished bottom of their group.


“Initially we were shocked by the intensity because we’re not used to playing such international matches,” said the 20-year-old, who put a tireless shift down the right and ended the game with a calf strain.


“But as the game went on, we adapted well and played very good football. Technically, we were on par with them. We kept trying and fighting till the last minute, but it wasn’t meant to be in the end.


“This match is a good experience for all of us and we should keep playing this level of matches to prepare for the upcoming AFF tournament.”


Singapore: Beatrice Tan (GK), Deborah Chin, Angelyn Pang (Jaslyn Leong 88′), Charmaine Lim, Lim Li Xian (Ho Hui Xin 81′), Sitianiwati Rosielin, Chris Yip-Au, Priscilla Tan, Fatin Afiqah (Azima Ahmad 76′), Angeline Chua (Khairiah Azhar 35′), Darvina Halini (captain) (Hamizah Talib 76′)


Sri Lanka: AMAS Wijerathna (GK), RDLR Gunawardhana, ILEK Liyanage, Hasara Dilrangi, RMCK Ekanayaka (KDRUC Karunarathna 84′), AC Sarukkali (KPS Perera 69′), Achala Sanjeevani Perera, PM Perera (D Leelanthi 67′), KPKN Kumari (captain) (SS Pathirana 51′), IM Withange, CS Francis