AffSuzukiCup2020 ● Dec 15, 2021

Lions qualify for AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 semis


Singapore celebrate, 14 December 2021


SINGAPORE, 14 DECEMBER 2021 – Singapore continued their positive start in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2020 on Tuesday night by seeing off Timor-Leste 2-0 to make it three wins out of three at the National Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub.


Adam Swandi struck early for the Lions before Shakir Hamzah put the result beyond doubt in the second half in front of 8,518 fans as the Lions confirmed qualification from Group A into the semi-finals for the first time since 2012.


There was added cause for celebration for Safuwan Baharudin, who marked his 100th cap for the country with an assist and a clean sheet on both his 21st consecutive international start and 21st consecutive start in the tournament.


Tatsuma Yoshida, 14 December 2021 (Credit: Sportfive)


While pleased to have made the knockout stages, Head Coach Tatsuma Yoshida acknowledged the need to improve for tougher tests ahead.


“Today our performance was not so good and I am not satisfied, but I am still proud of them because they tried to play their best,” he said at the virtual post-match press conference. “Timor-Leste showed very good technical ability and fighting spirit, which we have to respect them for.


“Congratulations to my boys for getting into the semi-finals for the first time in nine years, but right now we still have a (final group) match coming up soon (on Saturday against Thailand) so we cannot think about this achievement too much.


“Just because we won our first three matches does not mean we are a strong team (yet)… We have to improve game by game to challenge in the tournament.”


Adam Swandi celebrates, 14 December 2021


Thailand’s 2-1 win over Philippines in an earlier game, which also sealed their place in the next round, meant Singapore were assured of a semi-final spot before kick-off due to a superior head-to-head record against the latter as well as Myanmar.


Nonetheless, the Lions – with four changes to the line-up that included maiden Suzuki Cup starts for Hami Syahin and Adam – still went out with all guns blazing and scored after just four minutes.


Ikhsan Fandi’s initial shot off Shawal Anuar’s cross was blocked but Song Uiyoung reacted smartly to tee up Adam with a delightful backheel. On his first start since June 2019, Adam did the rest with a crisp first-time finish into the bottom right corner for his first Singapore goal.


That was Singapore’s earliest goal in the tournament since Baihakki Khaizan netted a third-minute strike in a 2-0 win over Indonesia in the 2008 group stage.


The visitors looked dangerous on a couple of counter-attacking situations and dangerman Paulo Gali looked odds-on to convert after being found by Mouzinho’s cut-back, only for Hassan Sunny to make a stunning point-blank save with his right leg on 11 minutes.


Safuwan Baharudin in action, 14 December 2021


Chances were at a premium for Singapore for the rest of the first half, with Hami thumping just wide of the left-hand post from 20 yards out on 26 minutes.


Tatsuma’s charges returned for the second half with renewed vigour and could have doubled their advantage seven minutes after the restart when Ikhsan was released by Shawal, but his shot cannoned off the right post.


Timor-Leste refused to cower and went close again on 62 minutes, with Mouzinho firing just inches wide after an excellent breakaway led by Gali.


Shakir Hamzah celebrates, 14 December 2021


The home side would finally net their second eight minutes later.


With the visitors failing to deal with Shahdan Sulaiman’s free-kick properly, Safuwan teed up Shakir for a right-footed effort that took a deflection before flying in to seal a third straight win.


While the Lions have already qualified, OPPO Man of the Match Shakir is targeting a win against five-time champions Thailand on Saturday in order to finish top of the group.


“We are all looking forward to this match and every one of us really wants to play against Thailand,” the 29-year-old said. “I know we have not beaten them for the past few years, but if we are united as one team, we can beat Thailand.


“It is important for us to challenge high and we really want to finish first in the group.”


Singapore: Hassan Sunny (GK), Zulqarnaen Suzliman (Nazrul Nazari 87’), Irfan Fandi, Safuwan Baharudin, Shakir Hamzah, Hariss Harun (C), Hami Syahin (M. Anumanthan 67’), Song Uiyoung (Shahdan Sulaiman 46’), Shawal Anuar, Adam Swandi (Faris Ramli 67’), Ikhsan Fandi (Amy Recha 82’).
Unused subs: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Syazwan Buhari (GK), Amirul Adli, Hafiz Nor, Zulfahmi Arifin, Nur Adam Abdullah, Saifullah Akbar.



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