AffSuzukiCup2020 ● Dec 09, 2021
Lions hold off Philippines for second win of AFF Suzuki Cup 2020
Faris Ramli celebrates, 8 December 2021
SINGAPORE, 9 DECEMBER 2021 – Singapore made it two wins out of two in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2020 on Wednesday night (8 Dec) as they edged the Philippines 2-1 at the National Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub.
Two quick-fire goals in the second half by captain Hariss Harun and Faris Ramli put the Lions ahead before Amin Nazari halved the deficit to set up a grandstand finish in front of 8,922 fans.
But the Lions held on to win their opening two games at the biennial tournament for only the third time in 13 editions, after 2000 and 2008. It was also the first time they won back-to-back competitive games since October 2015, when they defeated Afghanistan 1-0 and Cambodia 2-1 in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
Tatsuma Yoshida, 8 December 2021 (Credit: Sportfive)
The hard-fought victory pleased Head Coach Tatsuma Yoshida, with two matches left in Group A as Singapore target a semi-final berth for the first time since 2012.
“I am so happy that the boys could fight all the way until the end to achieve these three points,” he said. “In the first half, they did well in their positioning and teamwork… In the second half, they showed their soul and the Singapore spirit. This victory is a very big turning point for us in this competition.”
OPPO Man of the Match Safuwan Baharudin echoed his thoughts, saying, “Credit to the boys, we really worked our socks off tonight to get these three important points. Philippines had many quality players who are difficult to stop, but we did what many teams could not do against them.”
Tatsuma opted for a back three in the encounter with the Azkals, ranked 34 places above Singapore at 126th by FIFA, with Zulfahmi Arifin – one of four changes made – slotting in beside Safuwan Baharudin and Irfan. Ahead of them, Zulqarnaen Suzliman, M. Anumanthan and Gabriel Quak were the other three new faces.
Quak was lively in the opening stages and could have opened the scoring after just five minutes, but his shot lacked the accuracy to beat goalkeeper Kevin Ray Mendoza.
Stephan Schröck fired a snapshot wide from just outside the area as the Philippines ventured forward, who otherwise looked to frustrate the hosts with their diligent defending.
Zulfahmi Arifin makes a challenge, 8 December 2021
While Zulfahmi saw a free-kick saved and Shakir Hamzah fired off-target on a couple of occasions, the Lions generally found it tough to break through the lines against their opponents, who were led by stand-in coach Stewart Hall.
Tatsuma’s charges continued to take the initiative after the break and everything changed in a whirlwind 108-second spell.
On 61 minutes, Zulfahmi’s outswinging corner was flicked on by Safuwan into the path of Hariss, who nodded past Mendoza into the bottom right corner from six yards.
Hariss Harun celebrates, 8 December 2021
Just two minutes later, wing-back Zulqarnaen – making his first international start since October 2019 – scorched down the right after stealing the ball from Oliver Bias at the half-way line before whipping in an inch-perfect cross for Faris, steaming in at full speed, to bundle home at the far post.
A defensive lapse at a corner allowed Nazari to guide in Kevin Ingreso’s corner on 69 minutes to set up a nervy finale, although the Lions nearly got a third through Song Uiyoung, whose low drive was well saved.
Zulqarnaen Suzliman, 8 December 2021
The visitors piled on the pressure in the dying stages and Hassan stood tall, pushing away Ángel Guirado’s goal-bound header three minutes into injury time to preserve the points for the home side.
Having won their opening two Suzuki Cup games for the first time in 13 years, Singapore continue to lead Group A and next face Timor-Leste on 14 December.
Safuwan Baharudin in an aerial duel, 8 December 2021
Safuwan, who won his 99th cap, wants his side to continue in the same manner and not let up.
“It has been a while since we won our opening two games and it is a good time to break the chain,” he said. “In the past, we played our football differently, trying to hit the ball forward and hope for the best. Now we are playing progressive football under Coach Tatsuma and the players know what we can all do.
“We do not want it to go down to the last group game (with the situation where we are) still hoping to qualify.”
Singapore: Hassan Sunny (GK), Irfan Fandi, Safuwan Baharudin, Zulfahmi Arifin (Iqram Rifqi 79’), Zulqarnaen Suzliman (Nazrul Nazari 72’), Hariss Harun (C), M. Anumanthan (Shahdan Sulaiman 79’), Shakir Hamzah, Gabriel Quak (Song Uiyoung 60’), Faris Ramli, Ikhsan Fandi.
Unused subs: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Syazwan Buhari (GK), Amirul Adli, Amy Recha, Hami Syahin, Shawal Anuar, Adam Swandi, Saifullah Akbar.