National Team - Lionesses ● May 04, 2023
Lionesses go down 4-0 against Thailand in SEA Games opener
Putri Syaliza (jersey number 11) and Thailand’s Nualanong Muensri (in blue jersey) in action. Photo credit: SPORTSG/Jeremy Lee
PHNOM PENH, 3 MAY 2023 – Just a month after suffering a 6-0 defeat to Thailand in the Olympic 2024 qualifiers, the Lionesses were keen to put in a better performance against the same opponents in the first group stage match of their SEA Games 2023 campaign. While the five times gold medalists still triumphed 4-0 in the end, they were pushed by Singapore throughout the game.
From the outset, Thailand looked to dominate the game with their swift passes and aggressive playstyle, leaving the Lionesses with a challenge to keep up with the pace. Just five minutes in, the 44th-ranked team wasted no time in making their first mark in the match – an overhead pass was executed from Warunee Phetwiset to Saowalak Pengngam, who proceeded to manoeuvre smoothly past defenders Fatin Ridzwan and Rosnani Azman who were moving in to close down the space. With a swift shot, Saowalak found the back of the net and broke the deadlock, scoring the first goal for Thailand.
The Lionesses remain undeterred nonetheless, with custodian Noor Kusumawati valiantly saving numerous goal-scoring opportunities from the Thais. Unfortunately, her defence were left exposed in the 18th minute – Orapin Waenngoen delivered a perfectly-timed through pass to Warunee, who received the ball and pushed ahead with Orapin following close behind. Warunee then deftly passed the ball back to Orapin who then launched the ball into the net.
Syazwani Ruzi (red jersey number 20) and Thailand’s Orapin Waenngoen (in blue jersey) in action. Photo credit: SPORTSG/Jeremy Lee
The first half ended with the Thais extending the lead by 3-0. Midfielder Putri Syaliza’s foul against Pattaranan Aupachai in the 26th minute presented the Thais with a free kick opportunity which they did not waste. Nipawan Panyosuk received the ball from Warunee and launched a piledriver shot from outside the penalty box, that cleanly sailed into the back of the net.
The half-time team talk seemed to have rejuvenated the Lionesses in the second half – they dialled up on the aggression – a major switch from their defensive play at the start – and began pressing their opponents despite the Thais looking to control much of the game. Coach Karim Bencherifa opted to bring in three changes at the break with London-based forward Danelle Tan, who scored against the Thais in last month’s Olympic 2024 qualifiers, Dhaniyah Qasimah, as well as midfielder Sitianiwati Rosielin, who now earned her first SEA Games cap, coming on as he looked to make key tactical changes to the Lionesses line-up.
The change in tactics saw the Singapore team begin to make note-worthy goal-scoring attempts. In the 51st minute, they were awarded a free kick due to a clash between Kanjanaporn Saengkoon and overseas-based forward Nicole Lim. Defender Umairah Hamdan appeared to be on target with a shot from outside the box, only to miss the goalpost by a few inches. Another opportunity duly came in the 55th minute – Nicole’s attempt to chip the ball flew past the crossbar.
Farhanah Ruhaizat (in red jersey number 6) in action. Photo credit: SPORTSG/Jeremy Lee
The Lionesses were able to stave off the Thais’ attacks, even as the latter maintained possession of the game. However, they were unable to prevent a fourth goal in the 66th minute when a high and powerful punt from the middle of the field left Kusumawati scrambling to save it, but to her dismay, the ball slipped her grasp, leaving Warunee with a prime opportunity for an open goal to tap the ball in and make the final score 4-0.
Despite the opening loss, Singapore can still look to progress but will need wins in both upcoming matches against hosts Cambodia and Laos if they are to hope to secure a spot in the semi-final.
Singapore: Noor Kusumawati Rosman (GK), Stephanie Gigette (Sitianiwati Rosielin 46′), Fatin Ridzwan, Farhanah Ruhaizat (Danelle Tan 46’), Ho Hui Xin (Dhaniyah Qasimah 46’), Izzati Rosni (Khairunnisa 88’), Putri Syaliza, Umairah Hamdan, Rosnani Azman (Ernie Sontaril 80′) Syazwani Ruzi, Nicole Lim
Unused subs: Beatrice Tan (GK), Raudhah Kamis, Lila Tan, Venetia Lim