National Teams – Age-group ● Oct 25, 2021
Singapore rescue point against Timor-Leste in AFC U23 Asian Cup Qualifiers opener
Nur Adam Abdullah in action against Timor-Leste, 25 October 2021.
SINGAPORE, 25 OCTOBER 2021 – A last-gasp strike salvaged a 2-2 draw for Singapore against Timor-Leste in their opening Group H game of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U23 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2022™ Qualifiers on Monday night.
In front of close to 1,000 fans at the Jalan Besar Stadium, Glenn Kweh broke the deadlock but the Under-22s then suffered a setback after conceding twice in quick succession late in the first half.
The visitors defended stoutly with 10 men after Paulo Gali’s red card in an attempt to hold on to the win, but Nazri Nasir’s charges rallied and managed to earn a share of the spoils five minutes into injury time through an emphatic finish by centre-back Jordan Emaviwe.
“I am very proud of their performance and they gave a hundred per cent out there,” Nazri said. “They showed great attitude throughout the game and I could not ask for more than that. It is always difficult against 10 men who will sit back and go for the counter. We created a lot of chances, but the ball just did not go into the goal.”
Glenn Kweh (no. 17) celebrates scoring the opener, 25 October 2021
Roared on by the raucous home crowd, Singapore put up an enterprising first-half display and deservedly went ahead on 34 minutes. Joel Chew’s teasing inswinging corner was spilled by goalkeeper Junilo Manuel Pereira and centre-forward Kweh reacted the quickest to fire first-time past a sea of bodies into the bottom right corner.
However, the visitors equalised against the run of play five minutes later through Elias Joao Mesquita, who diverted a flick-on at a corner in from close range. Within three minutes, it became two for Timor-Leste as Elias turned provider to tee up Gali to finish off a one-on-one situation in a fast breakaway.
Remarkably though, the scorer was given a straight red card in the aftermath of the goal for allegedly using offensive language at the home fans, leaving Singapore with a one-man advantage.
Singapore were fired up after the break and dominated proceedings, but were let down by a combination of poor finishing and good goalkeeping by Pereira. Chew saw a shot cleared off the line, while Farhan Zulkifli forced a fine save as the hosts laid siege to the opposing goal but simply failed to find a way through.
Jordan Emaviwe volleys home a last-gasp equaliser, 25 October 2021
With defeat seemingly inevitable, Emaviwe popped up to equalise with virtually the last kick of the game by thrashing in a crisp volley to break Timor-Leste’s hearts.
While it was a memorable way to cap his U22 debut, the 20-year-old was disappointed with the dropped points.
“I am happy to score on my debut, but it is not the result we wanted as a team,” he said. “Nonetheless, getting a point so late in the game is something for us to build on and we just have to keep going for the upcoming two group games.”
Nazri added: “The boys carried out the game plan well… We just needed to stay focused and win the second balls. We did make some mistakes, but I am confident they can learn from this experience especially playing in an international tournament.”
Now joint-second in Group H behind Korea Republic, who defeated the Philippines 3-0 earlier in the day, Singapore will likely have to beat the latter in their next match on Thursday in order to stand a chance to qualify for the finals next year.
Only the group winner and the four best second-placed teams from the 11 groups will advance to the tournament proper.
Nazri said: “There are two more games to go so we still have a fighting chance. If we can get the win against Philippines, the boys will be going into the Korea game being very motivated. We just have to go back to basics and not over-complicate things to get the win.”
Singapore U22s: Ridhwan Fikri (GK), Ryhan Stewart, Jacob Mahler (C), Jordan Emaviwe, Nur Adam Abdullah, Harhys Stewart, Shah Shahiran (Daniel Goh 71’), Saifullah Akbar (Khairin Nadim 89’), Joel Chew, Farhan Zulkifli (Zikos Chua 60’), Glenn Kweh.
Unused subs: Dylan Pereira (GK), Martyn Mun (GK), Raoul Suhaimi, Danish Irfan, Ryaan Sanizal, Rezza Rezky, Jared Gallagher, Arshad Shamim, Zamani Zamri.