National Teams – Age-group ● May 03, 2023
Second defeat to champions leaves Singapore’s SEA Games 2023 qualification hopes hanging by a thread
Abdul Rasaq (jersey number 3) in action. Photo credit: Asian Football Confederation (AFC)
PHNOM PENH, 3 MAY 2023 – Singapore faces an uphill task of qualifying for the semi-finals of the 32nd Southeast Asian Games after going down to their second consecutive defeat going down by a similar 3-1 scoreline to current champions, Vietnam.
The Golden Star Warriors came into this game knowing that a second win after their 2-0 opening victory over Laos, would place them in a comfortable position at the top of Group B. They did not take long to assert their authority with Nguyễn Đức Phú’s snapshot in the fifth minute forcing keeper Aizil Yazid to pull off a sharp save, diving to his right. Forward Nguyễn Thanh Nhàn then had his chance to give Vietnam the lead in the 10th minute, but his shot was closed down by Kieran Teo, who was one of Singapore’s better performers in this game.
Singapore had to wait until the 18th minute of the game before registering their first shot on target. A long throw-in into the Vietnamese penalty box saw Fairuz Fazli attempting an acrobatic bicycle kick, but he could not connect with the ball cleanly as Vietnamese keeper Quan Văn Chuẩn gratefully gathered the ball in his arms.
The Vietnamese were not to be perturbed however as they continued to probe the Singapore defence in a search for an opening which duly came in the 35th minute. Singapore lost possession in the middle of the pitch which initiated a lightning quick break down the left flank by the Vietnamese. The ball eventually made its way to Lê Văn Đô who slipped it to striker Nguyễn Văn Tùng to score his second goal of this tournament.
Singapore was forced to immediately respond as they attempted to get an equaliser but they suffered a setback when two minutes before half-time, a headed clearance by Kieran was miscontrolled by Fathullah Rahmat. The ball fell kindly to Nguyễn Thái Sơn, whose first-time shot took a heavy touch on its way into goal off defender Bill Mamadou, who could only watch in despair.
The Young Lions did have a flicker of hope of getting a goal back just before the referee blew for the break, but Abdul Rasaq’s shot crashed against the upright.
Kieran (in red jersey) in action. Photo credit: Asian Football Confederation (AFC)
The second half saw Vietnam resuming their dominance as a pullback cross by substitute Nguyễn Quốc Việt was met by Nguyễn Thanh Nhàn but once again Kieran was there to clear the danger.
Two minutes later, Singapore had their best opportunity to pull a goal back when Ilhan Noor, who had come on for Aqil Yazid, sent a long cross to the far post where striker Elijah Lim was waiting but he was off-balanced as he attempted his shot, which went high and wide.
Vietnam were intent on adding on to their goal tally and they nearly added a third in the 78th min, when a cross into the Singapore penalty area fell to the feet of Quốc Việt who was left with a simple tap-in only to be denied by Aizil and the outstretched leg of Bill.
The resulting corner sparked a goalmouth scramble which Singapore managed to clear but the ball found its way to Khuất Văn Khang whose cross was turned into goal via a cruel deflection off Ilhan.
Singapore did manage a consolation goal courtesy of an own goal by defender Vũ Tiến Long, whose misguided clearance from an innocuous cross by Syahadat Masnawi completely flummoxed his keeper, as it looped over Văn Chuẩn’s head.
The loss means that Singapore will need to win its two remaining games against Laos and Malaysia while hoping for other results to go their way, if they are to progress to the semi-finals. Coach Philippe Aw will hope that midfielder Jordan Emaviwe and defender Andrew Aw, who both were not in the squad due to illness, will be able to return to bolster the team when they take on Laos next on Saturday, 6 May.
Singapore U22: Aizil Yazid (GK), Harhys Stewart, Abdul Rasaq (Syahadat Masnawi 75′), Bill Mamadou, Kieran Teo, Nur Adam, Elijah Lim (Nicky Singh 75′), Fairuz Fazli (Ryaan Sanizal 81′), Aqil Yazid (Ilhan Noor 46′), Jared Gallagher, Fathullah Rahmat (Ajay Robson 59′)
Unused subs: Wayne Chew (GK), Adam Reefdy