National Teams – Age-group ● May 02, 2018

Singapore to rally against Timor Leste in Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy semi


Under-21 National Team Head Coach Fandi Ahmad wants the side to bounce back after a 1-0 loss on Monday night

Singapore Under-21 National Team Head Coach Fandi Ahmad at the post-match press conference (Photo from


SINGAPORE, 2 MAY 2018 – The Singapore Under-21 National Team will aim to put Monday (30 April) night’s defeat to Cambodia behind them when they take on Timor Leste in the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy semi-finals tonight.


The Group B leaders entered the match at the Track and Field, Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex on a high after a 5-1 victory over Laos in their opening match five days prior, but were brought back down to earth with a 1-0 loss.


Midfielder Sos Suhana converted a rebound on 23 minutes for the only goal of the game, which Singapore played with 10 men after 34 minutes due to Irfan Fandi’s sending-off.


“We did not settle down well at the start of the game,” Head Coach Fandi Ahmad reflected afterward. “We were sloppy and let them dictate the pace.


“Cambodia came into the match knowing that only a win would do for them (to stay in the tournament), which reflected in their quick start and determination.


“Our marking was loose and the lack of tracking of men in the first half cost us the game.”

Jacob Mahler (no. 6) had a good game as a make-shift centre-back (Photo from


But Fandi took heart from the team’s response after going a man down, while also pointing out that Singapore did not need to go all out to chase an equaliser as they had a superior goal difference.


“Even though we had to play with 10 men for more than an hour, we managed to compete and hold on to the result,” he said.


“We adjusted our formation straight away to be more compact and it was important that we saw out the game tactically.


“We knew we still had the advantage in terms of our goal difference (to top the group) and we had to make sure we struck a balance between holding on to what we have and going for the equaliser.”


“In fact, we played better in the second half as the team stepped up their efforts to make up for the numerical disadvantage and we even created a few scoring chances.”


Fandi also singled out midfielders Jacob Mahler and Hami Syahin for praise, particularly the former, who slotted into the heart of defence and turned in an assured display.


“Jacob had another very good game last night, especially when he had to switch to centre-back to take over from Irfan,” he said. “It was his first time playing in that position but he did very well and he had a brilliant last-ditch tackle to stop a dangerous attack. Hami was also very hardworking, tracking players constantly especially in the second half.”


With only a day to prepare for the semi-final tonight (8.15pm kick-off), Fandi knows that his charges will have to bounce back quickly.


“A number of players have injuries and knocks and today (Tuesday) will be critical in terms of our recovery,” he said.


“We will also rally and motivate the team. We could see that in football, things can suddenly change. One moment, we were on top (after our opening win) and the next moment we are down.


“We have a game plan and we will work on it with the team to take on a very competitive and strong Timor Leste side.”

Meanwhile, our U-21 defender Irfan personally visited the Cambodian camp yesterday to apologise for the challenge that he was dismissed for (refer to Facebook post above).


Irfan was sent off following a clash with Cambodian midfielder Mat Noron, which he apologised for and also clarified there was no malicious intent.


He wished the Cambodians all the best for their semi-final against Myanmar tonight and the Cambodians graciously accepted the apology.