National Teams – Age-group ● Mar 21, 2018

Gutsy Singapore Go Down to Indonesia in U23 Friendly


The visitors proved too strong for Fandi Ahmad’s charges, who was nevertheless satisfied with their commitment


SINGAPORE, 21 MARCH 2018: Fandi Ahmad’s first international match as Singapore Under-23 National Team Head Coach ended in defeat as they went down 3-0 to their Indonesian counterparts on Wednesday night.


The hosts held their own until two minutes before half-time, when Febri Haryandi beat two players before unleashing a thunderbolt from 25 metres that gave Zharfan Rohaizad no chance in goal.


That goal dealt Singapore a blow and Indonesia’s experience told after the break, where they put the home side to the sword with two well-taken goals in a match that served as part of RISING50 Celebrations to commemorate 50 years of warm bilateral relations between both nations.


Captain Muhammad Hargianto cracked a precise strike into the bottom left corner from range after feinting past his man on 51 minutes, before Septian David Maulana tapped in a cross from Febri on 66 minutes after the latter led a lightning break down the left.


At the post-match press conference, Fandi acknowledged the Indonesians’ superiority and congratulated them on a deserved victory.


“They were the better side, full of technically (better) players, full of speed and power,” he said of an Indonesian side that started with 10 players capped at senior level. “I think they were at different level from us.


“Of course, we are very disappointed with the result as we wanted a better showing; this is not the best game we’ve played.”


The difference in ability was perhaps neatly encapsulated in the build-up to the third goal. Seconds after substitute Akbar Shah miscued his shot from six yards out, the ball ended up in the Singapore goal thanks to a superbly-executed counter-attack by Indonesia.


Fandi, whose 26-strong squad had 13 first-time call-ups to this age-group, admitted that his charges have fallen behind their regional rivals in terms of technical ability and game experience.


“We can play other teams like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan and we are left behind now in terms of technical (ability), speed of the game and power,” the 55-year-old said.


“I can’t blame the boys as most of them are students… In all areas, first and foremost, we need to be fully professional. We hope that they don’t have to miss training because anywhere else in the world at this age group, 19 to 23 years old, they will have eight to nine sessions a week and we are not near there.”


However, the Singapore legend was pleased with the commitment that the team displayed and is confident they will get better in future.


“I really like the way they fight and try to give their best,” he said. “I am happy with their performance. Even though the 3-0 margin looks bad, we can see they are trying very hard. The players did not give up.


“Our fitness has been improving.. These are young players, they need to learn more and develop (a better understanding).”


SINGAPORE U23: Zharfan Rohaizad, Shahrin Saberin (Amirul Adli 69′), Illyas Lee (C), Faizal Roslan, Zulqarnean Suzliman, Justin Hui (Adam Swandi 31′), Umar Akhbar (Rusyaidi Salime 55′), Syahrul Sazali (Naqiuddin Eunos 77′), Hami Syahin (Amiruldin Asraf 80′), Naufal Azman (Akbar Shah 59′), Ikhsan Fandi.
Unused subs: Hairul Syirhan, Kenji Rusydi, Taufiq Muqminin, Adam Hakeem, Darren Teh, Nazhiim Harman, Aniq Iskandar, Asshukrie Wahid, Ifwat Ismail.