AffSuzukiCup2020 ● Dec 22, 2021
Lions with all to play for after first-leg draw with Indonesia
Ikhsan Fandi scores, 22 December 2021
SINGAPORE, 22 DECEMBER 2021 – A second-half equaliser from Ikhsan Fandi saw Singapore earn a 1-1 draw with Indonesia in the first leg of their ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2020 semi-final on Wednesday night at the National Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub.
Witan Sulaeman had given the Garuda the lead in the first half, but the Lions returned with vigour after the break and eventually found the equaliser on 70 minutes in front of 9,952 fans to leave the tie evenly-poised ahead of the second leg on Saturday.
Speaking at the virtual post-match press conference, Head Coach Tatsuma Yoshida expressed his satisfaction at the way his side came back in the second half.
“Some players were a bit nervous today and I can understand because it was a big match today and there is some pressure playing as the hosts,” he said. “I told them at half-time, ‘you must not escape your responsibilities or hesitate – you must try to show your full potential and individual qualities’.
“In the second half, our performance was better and I am very proud that the boys did not give up at any moment of this match. Ikhsan’s goal gave us the motivation to keep our heads up and keep going. This result might not be very good (because we always aim to win), but it is also not too bad for us.”
Tatsuma Yoshida on the touchline, 22 December 2021
Singapore made four changes to the line-up with Nur Adam Abdullah handed his first international start at left wing-back while Nazrul Nazari, Zulfahmi Arifin and Song Uiyoung also came into the side.
In a fast and frenetic start to the game, Singapore carved out the better openings and when Song Uiyoung’s cross was spilled into the path of Ikhsan on 14 minutes, the forward scuffed his left-footed shot into the side netting.
Eight minutes later, Safuwan Baharudin got to Shahdan Sulaiman’s free-kick but his looping header was tipped over by Indonesia goalkeeper Nadeo Argawinata.
However, it was Shin Tae-yong’s side who drew first blood in the 28th minute through their first shot on target. Indonesia captain Asnawi Mangkualam roared down the right and teed up Witan, whose low finish evaded Hassan Sunny’s despairing reach before nestling into the bottom left corner.
Safuwan Baharudin, 22 December 2021
The electric winger, of Lechia Gdańsk in the Polish top-flight, could have found a second nine minutes later but his close-range shot went off target.
Tatsuma reacted by shifting captain Hariss Harun back into the heart of defence and brought on M. Anumanthan at half-time for fresh legs in the middle of the park.
“We needed to calm down on the pitch so (I made the decision for) Hariss to drop into the back,” he said. “I wanted him to be the distributor and for him to build up the play for us from the back. In that situation, we just needed to find a new solution.”
The Lions were a different side when the second half commenced and created a host of opportunities – Ikhsan went close twice before Faris Ramli curled a gilt-edged opportunity over after fashioning it for himself superbly.
Zulqarnaen Suzliman and Shawal Anuar were thrown into the fray to add more pace and impetus, and the pressure finally paid off.
Ikhsan Fandi celebrates, 22 December 2021
A driving run at the heart of the Indonesians from Faris saw him beat one man before slipping in Ikhsan with a no-look pass. With only Nadeo to beat, the 22-year-old finished calmly for his third goal of the tournament.
The Lions almost took the lead three minutes later but Safuwan’s header off Shahdan’s corner came off the post.
Shahdan Sulaiman, 22 December 2021
At the other end, Hassan had to be alert to deny a couple of Indonesian opportunities before Amy almost stole a late winner two minutes from time only to see his 25-yard volley pushed behind.
With the second leg in three days’ time, recovery is key for Tatsuma’s side and he said: “There are just two days of rest and we have 26 players now in the squad. Maybe we can bring in some new players while keeping our quality on the pitch. I always have confidence in my boys and we will try to get the best result on Saturday.”
Singapore: Hassan Sunny (GK), Irfan Fandi, Safuwan Baharudin, Zulfahmi Arifin (M. Anumanthan 46’), Nazrul Nazari, Hariss Harun (C), Shahdan Sulaiman, Nur Adam Abdullah (Zulqarnaen Suzliman 65’), Song Uiyoung (Shawal Anuar 65’), Faris Ramli (Hafiz Nor 87’), Ikhsan Fandi (Amy Recha 71’).
Unused subs: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Syazwan Buhari (GK), Tajeli Salamat, Amirul Adli, Hami Syahin, Iqram Rifqi, Saifullah Akbar.