National Team - Lions ● Dec 27, 2022
Lions register second straight group win against Laos
Singapore celebrate the first goal, 27 December 2022
VIENTIANE, 27 DECEMBER 2022 – Singapore made it two wins in as many matches at the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 on Tuesday evening by seeing off Laos.
Irfan Fandi and Shawal Anuar each grabbed a goal in the Lions’ second Group B encounter, which took place at the New Laos National Stadium against a spirited home side.
The Laotians looked eager to bounce back from back-to-back defeats and were the first to threaten through Soukaphone Vongchiengkam’s long-range effort, which Hassan Sunny comfortably dealt with. The Singapore goalkeeper was one of six changes to the line-up, which also saw Irfan restored after missing the previous match due to suspension.
Head coach Takayuki Nishigaya said: “We have to think about the players’ condition and that is why we decided to use some fresh players. I am happy that they performed well and we now have to think about the next game. I do not think it (the changes) affected us; we had a good first half where we had the ball and created chances a lot of the time, but of course there is still room to grow.”
It was Irfan who broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute. A late far-post run from the 25-year-old saw him meet Zulfahmi Arifin’s perfect free-kick from the left with a powerful header to score his second international goal, which gave the Lions a half-time advantage.
“I am very happy that I could help my team tonight,” Irfan said. “It was a really tough game, they were coming really hard at us. It is an honour to score for my country and help out, because I was out for the last game.”
Irfan Fandi heads in the first goal for Singapore, 27 December 2022
Faris Ramli should probably have doubled the lead in the 49th minute after beating goalkeeper Keo Oudone Souvannasangso, only to see his finish cleared off the line. Substitute Christopher van Huizen saw a low effort saved before Ryhan Stewart smashed over from a tight angle as the Lions searched for a second.
That finally came four minutes into added time thanks to the relentless pressing of Shawal. The substitute, who scored the winner against Myanmar, closed down Keo Oudone as he tried to make a clearance before sitting the goalkeeper down and slotting into an empty goal. It extended the 31-year-old’s international scoring streak to four appearances, tallying five in total.
Nishigaya expressed satisfaction at clinching the win but acknowledged the need for a better performance against Vietnam in three days’ time. While Shawal’s late strike sealed the three points, Laos had come close to equalising on a few occasions before that.
Shawal Anuar beating the goalkeeper en route to scoring, 27 December 2022
Chony Wenparseth fired just wide as half-time approached before forcing Hassan into a smart stop on the hour mark, while the goalkeeper also got a crucial fingertip to deflect Phithack Kongmathilath’s wonderful dipping 30-yard strike onto the bar. Later on, Phathana Phommathep sliced a shot wide from a good position.
“Of course, the players understand that we have to improve more; the coaching staff understands that too,” Nishigaya said. “We have more games coming up and we have to improve more. The most important thing now is how we will play in the next game; as you know, Vietnam is a strong team, so we have to concentrate (and play more together) as a team.”
The Lions will leave for Singapore tomorrow and are expected to arrive at night, before resuming preparations for the third Group B match against Vietnam on Friday at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Singapore: Hassan Sunny (GK), Irfan Fandi, Hariss Harun (C), Joshua Pereira, Hafiz Nor (Ryhan Stewart 77’), Shahdan Sulaiman, Zulfahmi Arifin, Nazrul Nazari (Christopher van Huizen 77’), Faris Ramli (Shah Shahiran 61’), Song Uiyoung (Amy Recha 56’), Ilhan Fandi (Shawal Anuar 61’).
Unused subs: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Zaiful Nizam (GK), Shakir Hamzah, Hami Syahin, Amirul Adli, M. Anumanthan, Farhan Zulkifli.
Singapore line-up, 27 December 2022