National Team - Lionesses ● Sep 25, 2021
Lionesses fall to narrow defeat in Asian Cup qualifying opener
Midfielder Farhanah Ruhaizat holds the ball, 24 September 2021.
DUSHANBE, 25 SEPTEMBER 2021 – The Lionesses went down to a 1-0 defeat against Indonesia in their first Group C match of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 qualifiers last night.
Head coach Stephen Ng emphasised that the team is “still in this”, describing their performance at the Republican Central Stadium as admirable and full of grit.
He told FAS.org.sg: “The team showed determination and competed well against the Indonesians, who, as expected, were tough opponents. We took too long to settle down at the start of the match, which led to the early concession but the team bounced back to ensure that no other goals were let in.”
Indonesia found themselves with an early lead after striker Baiq Amiatun Shalihah headed the ball in at a corner in the fourth minute. Thereafter, Singapore’s defence of captain Ernie Sulastri, Fatin Aqillah Ridzwan, Nur Syazwani and Nurhidayu Naszri reacted with a valiant display for the remainder of the game to thwart their opponents as the Lionesses went in search of a goal.
Ng added: “We are still finding the rhythm of playing at the international level. This is the level that we aim to compete in, and we are constantly focused on improving our game and developing the standard. Although I have seen better performances from the players, both individually and collectively as a team, the overall display was good. It is especially encouraging when you factor in that the team has not had any local or international competition in two years due to the pandemic.”
In particular, he praised the performance of left-back Nurhidayu, 17, as “one of the best debuts” he has witnessed. The teenager, who has been part of the youth set-up since the Under-16 national team, admitted that she was initially full of nerves but settled in and grew from strength to strength as the match went on.
Nurhidayu Naszri (no. 3) in action against Indonesia, 24 September 2021
“I was the only debutant starting and I also know how strong Indonesia is, so I felt double the pressure before the match,” the Institute of Technical Education Central student reflected. “My teammates encouraged and motivated me, which helped me shake it off and I was able to show my strengths of tackling in challenges and closing opponents down quickly.
“We could have done better in the first half when Indonesia pressed us but we managed to get up and fight for every ball to end with a decent result. Indonesia is a very good team and losing by just a goal is an achievement.”
Midfielder Dorcas Chu came on at half-time to replace Lim Li Xian while striker Danelle Tan was replaced at the 88th minute by Nicole Lim, which was also her international debut.
The Lionesses will take the next two days to gear up before their second and final match against Indonesia on 27 September. Victory by a two-goal margin will see the team progress to the finals, while a one-goal winning margin will lead to a penalty shootout to decide the qualifier.
“We will regroup and plan our approach for the last match,” Ng said. “We are still in this and we will put up another strong performance on Monday.”
Singapore: Noor Kusumawati (GK), Nur Syazwani Ruzi, Ernie Sulastri (C), Nurhidayu Naszri, Venetia Lim, Nur Izzati Rosni, Stephanie Dominguez, Nur Farhanah Ruhaizat, Lim Li Xian (Dorcas Chu 46′), Danelle Tan (Nicole Lim 88′)
Unused subs: Beatrice Tan (GK), Raudhah Kamis, Winette Lim, Ho Hui Xin, Khairunissa Anwar, Nur Umairah Hamdan, Lila Tan, Dhaniyah Qasimah.