National Teams – Age-group ● Nov 27, 2019
Singapore draw with Laos in SEA Games opener
SINGAPORE, 27 NOVEMBER 2019 – The Singapore Under-22s started their 30th SEA Games campaign with a goal-less draw against Laos in Philippines last night.
Despite recording their 35th clean sheet in Games history, the Young Lions will rue missing clear-cut chances that fell to both Fandi brothers, Irfan and Ikhsan.
Coach Fandi Ahmad expressed his disappointment after the game and said: “It wasn’t our best game… We missed a lot of sitters today, but hats off to the Laotians; they fought very hard and were very fast.”
Managed by former Singapore international V. Sundram Moorthy, Laos set out to frustrate at the Rizal Memorial Stadium and effectively snuffed out Singapore’s threat going forward with a good defensive display. They nearly broke the deadlock themselves in the 85th minute when Soukaphone Vongchiengkham broke free down the left and moved inside the box, only to put his shot over the bar from a tight angle.
Singapore recovered from a slow start to fashion enough opportunities to take victory, but were not clinical enough.
Faris Ramli, one of two overaged players in the squad, nearly put Singapore ahead in the 5th minute when he fired just over the bar. Then Ikhsan, after being played through by Shah Shahiran in the 33rd minute, was denied by Laos custodian Xaysavath Souvanhnasok who was in inspired form throughout the match. Irfan then spurned another chance by skying a shot over the bar from Faris’ cross.
Fandi said: “We created a lot of chances, we dominated very well; if you could see, most times we were in their half (and) they were soaking (up the pressure) and trying to hit us on the break. This was a day where we wanted to win as it would have been much easier for us after the next game. I saw that Indonesia beat Thailand, so it will be a very, very tough group here.”
Singapore will face Indonesia next on Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, and will be looking to improve on their performance to achieve their target of qualifying for the semi-finals.
Fandi acknowledged that the team have to pick themselves up again for the subsequent matches, saying: “The boys must look forward, we don’t want them to be down because the first game is always very difficult for us and there’s so much pressure for the boys. Some of them are actually at the SEA Games for the first time; you could see at the beginning (that) we were a bit jittery, then we settled down well.”