AffSuzukiCup2020 ● Dec 06, 2021
Lions see off Myanmar in AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 opener
Singapore celebrate Safuwan Baharudin’s opener against Myanmar, 5 December 2021
SINGAPORE, 6 DECEMBER 2021 – Singapore’s bid for regional supremacy began on the best possible note as they posted a 3-0 victory over Myanmar in their opening game of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2020 on Sunday night.
Three goals in 12 minutes at the National Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub made all the difference for the Lions in front of 7,588 fans as they picked up their largest win since a 6-1 win over Timor-Leste in the 2018 edition.
Safuwan Baharudin’s 12th goal in 98 caps was swiftly followed by a clinical brace from Ikhsan Fandi, who took his tally to an impressive 10 goals in 20 caps.
It was also Singapore’s first clean sheet in 10 internationals since a 0-0 friendly draw against Jordan in October 2019.
Hassan Sunny kept a clean sheet – the team’s first since October 2019, 5 December 2021
Head Coach Tatsuma Yoshida was pleased with the professional display from his charges as they got off to a winning start in Group A.
“I am particularly happy and proud with our team’s fighting spirit and the way we played according to our formation,” he said. “We had a few players making their debuts in this competition, like Shawal (Anuar) and Song (Uiyoung). They showed their potential and abilities to help the team.
“The first match is always important for the team and we were a bit nervous in the beginning, but we got three points and that is the most important thing.”
Ikhsan Fandi celebrates after scoring his first goal of the match, 5 December 2021
Ikhsan, who could perhaps be disappointed not to have completed his hat-trick, acknowledged that there is room for improvement despite picking up the OPPO Man of the Match award.
“I felt that I was not settled down in the game for the first 20 minutes to be honest and I had to find my rhythm,” the 22-year-old said.
“But you take time to adapt to games like this, in a tournament like this and once we got it rolling, we see the team start to move well together, and we found our rhythm and then we found our goals. Now we just have to recover well and prepare for the next game.”
Urged on by the expectant home crowd, Singapore began on the front foot and could have scored after 14 minutes. Keen to make an impression on his competitive debut for the Lions, Song robbed Yan Naing Oo and sent Faris Ramli clear, who was thwarted by the goalkeeper.
Song Uiyoung makes a challenge, 5 December 2021
Neat in possession and happy to play out of the press, Myanmar proved to be a tough nut to crack and limited Singapore to mainly chances from set-pieces.
But that did not faze the Lions and they broke the deadlock on 34 minutes via a corner. Shahdan Sulaiman’s outswinging delivery picked out Safuwan, who did the rest with a towering header past Myo Min Latt.
Buoyed, the men in red doubled their advantage just five minutes later. In an electric counter-attack sparked by the influential Song, Faris released Ikhsan who, in turn, skinned his marker before drilling an unerring finish into the bottom left corner from a tight angle.
Hariss Harun on the ball, 5 December 2021
Tatsuma’s charges were not done yet and they found joy again at a dead ball. In the first minute of added time, Ikhsan rose majestically to head in Shahdan’s tantalising free-kick to send the fans wild.
Singapore did create further opportunities in the second half, with Ikhsan denied a first international treble by a tight offside call while Safuwan and Hariss Harun were thwarted by desperate goal-line clearances. Shahdan also came within inches of getting onto the scoresheet as his daisy-cutter flew just wide.
At the other end, Hassan Sunny had to be alert in goal to repel Myanmar substitute Win Naing Tun from close range on 69 minutes as the Lions ended the night with a satisfying shut-out.
The result meant Singapore top Group A after the first round of matches ahead of Thailand, who beat Timor-Leste 2-0 in an earlier game.
The Lions take on the Philippines next on Wednesday night and Tatsuma urged his charges to stay focused.
“Sure, we are happy about the result but we can only be happy about it for tonight,” he said. “Next, we have to prepare well for the next few matches. We have more areas to improve on and hopefully we can overcome everything that come our way in this tournament.”
Singapore: Hassan Sunny (GK), Nazrul Nazari (Iqram Rifqi 89’), Irfan Fandi, Safuwan Baharudin, Shakir Hamzah, Shahdan Sulaiman, Song Uiyoung (Adam Swandi 81’), Hariss Harun (C), Shawal Anuar (Zulqarnaen Suzliman 66’), Faris Ramli (Hami Syahin 66’), Ikhsan Fandi (Amy Recha 89’).
Unused subs: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Syazwan Buhari (GK), Tajeli Salamat, Amirul Adli, M. Anumanthan, Gabriel Quak, Saifullah Akbar.