National Teams – Age-group ● Apr 26, 2018

Singapore Under-21s trump Laos 5-1 in Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy 2018 opener


Fandi Ahmad’s charges got off to a convincing start in Brunei as Ikhsan Fandi and Rusyaidi Salime each scored twice

The Singapore Under-21s celebrate a goal in their Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy 2018 opener (Photo from


SINGAPORE, 26 APRIL 2018 – Plucking it out of the air, Rusyaidi Salime took a touch and steadied himself, before calmly slotting the ball past the goalkeeper and into the bottom left corner.


It was a composed finish one would expect from an accomplished striker. But in fact, it came from a player accustomed to more defensive positions before this year.


Rusyaidi’s measured strike in the second minute of added time rounded off an emphatic 5-1 victory for the Singapore Under-21 National Team on Wednesday night, 25 April, against Laos in their 2018 Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy opener.


It was also the 20-year-old’s second goal of the Group B game at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium – on his birthday, no less.


“The feeling was surreal!” he told FAS earlier this afternoon. “We were playing in a big stadium with a crowd and knowing it was an important game for us, so to score the first and last goals was the icing on the cake for my birthday present!


“It’s actually the first time I’ve ever scored two goals in a match too!”


Rusyaidi, who has played at right-back for the past few seasons before being converted to defensive midfield this year, added: “It was just pure instinct. I’m actually not a striker but a defensive player, but I remember Coach Fandi (Ahmad) telling us that we do not need power to score a goal. We just need the right technique and the right placement.”

The Singapore Under-21 line-up against Laos (Photo from


It was the no. 21 who broke the deadlock on 18 minutes, firing home the rebound after his first attempt off Ikhsan Fandi’s knock-down was saved.


Laos levelled through Captain Phitack Kongmathilath’s low angled drive just two minutes later, but the Singaporean heads did not go down for long.


Fandi’s boys laid siege to Saymanolinh Paseuth’s goal and Ikhsan was denied by a last-ditch tackle, while Joshua Pereira headed a corner just wide.


Ikhsan’s fierce effort after slaloming past two opponents on the left was pushed away, but the pressure eventually paid off from the ensuing corner.


With the set-piece half-cleared, the ball fell kindly for Hami Syahin to volley crisply in from 12 yards to restore the lead on 40 minutes.


Ikhsan then opened his account for the season on the stroke of half-time, reacting quickly to sidefoot in the rebound after his header off Prakash Raj’s cross was saved.


Four minutes into the second half, Ikhsan rose like a salmon to head in Syahrul Sazali’s pin-point cross for his second goal.


Irfan Fandi and Rusyaidi then both headed over from promising positions and it was the latter who eventually got the fifth.


A stunning long ball from inside his own half by Aniq Iskandar picked out Rusyaidi’s well-timed run and he tucked the chance away to cap a seven-pass move.


“It was very good, almost the perfect match for us,” Rusyaidi reflected. “Even though we were not so stable at the start, we managed to settle down and we began dictating the game from then on.”


The team now have four days to recover until their second and final group game against Cambodia on 30 April and Rusyaidi is keen for the side to keep their feet on the ground.


“It’s possible (to go all the way) of course,” he said. “But we are still in the group stage and we need to focus on reaching the semi-finals first.”


Singapore: Zharfan Rohaizad, Prakash Raj (Nazhiim Harman 87′), Irfan Fandi, Taufiq Muqminin (C), Syahrul Sazali, Jacob Mahler, Rusyaidi Salime, Joshua Pereira, Hami Syahin (Aniq Iskandar 81′), Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Ikhsan Fandi (Naufal Azman 83′).
Unused subs: Hairul Syirhan, Adam Hakeem, Sharul Nizam, Ifwat Ismail.


Head to our Instagram at for behind-the-scenes content from Brunei!