National Teams – Age-group ● May 12, 2023
Derby defeat as Singapore go down to Malaysia in final SEA Games fixture
Captains Harhys Stewart (Singapore red jersey number 8) and Mukhairi Ajmal (Malaysia yellow jersey number 7) in action. Photo courtesy of Cambodia 2023’s Facebook page.
PHNOM PENH, 12 MAY 2023 – Singapore concluded its campaign with a devastating 7-0 defeat by Malaysia who put on an assertive display of dominance.
Right from the kickoff, the derby clash saw both teams eager to draw first blood and break the deadlock by finding the back of the net. Singapore came agonizingly close to attaining a goal as Nicky Melvin Singh‘s cross saw Fathullah Rahmat unleash a quick shot from close range but it lacked the necessary accuracy to end up in goal.
Fathullah Rahmat (Singapore red jersey number 16), with Ruven Thiran (Malaysia yellow jersey number 2) giving chase. Photo courtesy of Cambodia 2023’s Facebook page.
Malaysia then struck the opening blow in the 14th minute as midfielder Saravanan Thirumurugan skillfully dribbled the ball into the heart of the penalty box, deftly evading the tight attention of Fathullah. He then launched a fierce curling strike that left goalkeeper Aizil Yazid with little time to react except for a valiant dive but to no avail.
Singapore needed to pick themselves up after conceding first once again and responded by working hard to contain Malaysia’s attacking threats. The Tigers came close to extending their lead multiple times with a few close shots and with one hitting the crossbar. Aizil’s quick reflexes managed to ward off forward Haqimi Azim’s attempt in the 37th minute. Just two minutes later, Azim once again tested Aizil when he unleashed a powerful long-range shot which was denied by the Singapore custodian’s diving deflection.
However, Singapore’s defense faltered in the dying minutes of the first half as a well-executed cross by Saravanan created an opening for Azim, who seized the opportunity with an uncontested textbook header. The teams headed into the changing rooms with Malaysia leading comfortably 2-0 at halftime.
Andrew Aw (Singapore red jersey number 13) in action. Photo courtesy of Cambodia 2023’s Facebook page.
Malaysia wasted no time in the second half as they continued their aggressive probing attacks, with a clear desire to extend their lead. An unfortunate mistake by defender Kieran Teo proved costly for Singapore – his attempt to clear the ball after receiving it from Aizil resulted in an inadvertent deflection off Azim’s leg. The ball fortuitously fell in possession of Saravanan, who was left with the simple of tapping the ball into the net for Malaysia’s third goal.
Saravanan was clearly on a roll as he continued to pose Singapore problems with his darting runs and tricky dribbling. The 53rd minute saw winger Ruven Thiran unleash a shot that was palmed away by Aizil, however, Andrew Aw fell short in regaining control of the ball as Saravanan capitalize on the opportunity to strike his 3rd goal, bringing Malaysia up by 4. Saravanan was not done yet after achieving a hattrick as he added another goal to his tally in the 62nd minute.
A perfectly executed lob pass from midfielder Aliff Izwan to Saravanan allowed him to push the ball ahead with Andrew in close pursuit. Undeterred by the tight marking, Saravanan confidently struck the ball as it nestled into the net, marking his four-goal haul as Malaysia extended its lead to 5-0.
Defender Fairuz Fazli was taken out of the field at the 78th minute due to a muscle injury on the upper thigh as he was shortly stretchered off and substituted by Ajay Robson.
Substitute Adam Reefdy showcased his agility with a timely interception denying a goal attempt from Malaysian attacker Fergus Tierney. However, the ball fell to Malaysia’s possession and midfielder Mukhairi Ajmal unleashed a shot that sailed into the net, increasing Malaysia’s lead to six.
Nicky Singh (Singapore red jersey number 15) in action. Photo courtesy of Cambodia 2023’s Facebook page.
Despite the final minutes of the match, Malaysia were in no mood to ease up as forward Aiman Afif found himself in an opportune situation as he surged past Singapore’s defense to receive the ball before placing it into the net, sealing Malaysia’s final goal. The 7-0 scoreline marked a resounding victory for Malaysia, while for Singapore it meant finishing this campaign without a victory for the first time since 1987.
Singapore U22s: Aizil Yazid, Harhys Stewart, Ryaan Sanizal, Kieran Teo, Elijah Lim (Syahadat Masnawi 46’), Fairuz Fazli (Ajay Robson 80’), Andrew Aw, Jared Gallagher, Nicky Singh (Aqil Yazid 72’), Fathullah Rahmat, Ilhan Noor (Adam Reefdy 57’)
Unused subs: Wayne Chew, Abdul Rasaq, Bill Mamadou, Nur Adam, Jordan Emaviwe