AffSuzukiCup2020 ● Dec 19, 2021
Lions go down to Thailand for first defeat in AFF Suzuki Cup 2020
Ikhsan Fandi, 18 December 2021
SINGAPORE, 18 DECEMBER 2021 – Singapore suffered their first defeat in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2020 on Saturday night as they went down 2-0 to Thailand in their final Group A match.
First-half goals from Elias Dolah and Supachai Chaided settled the affair in front of 9,540 fans at the National Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub and confirmed Singapore’s runners-up finish behind the Thais.
This means that the Lions will meet the winners of Group B – Indonesia, Vietnam or Malaysia – in the two-legged semi-finals on 22 and 25 December.
Speaking at the virtual post-match press conference, Head Coach Tatsuma Yoshida lamented the “small details” that led to his side’s first loss in four matches.
Tatsuma Yoshida, 18 December 2021 (Credit: Sportfive)
“Today the boys did well in my opinion,” he said. “The performance, no problem. But we did not do enough in dealing with counter-attacks, in our quality of crossing and through balls.”
While Thailand coach Alexandré Pölking left out the likes of Chanathip Songkrashin, Theerathon Bunmathan and Teerasil Dangda as he rang the changes, the match was certainly not lacking in competitiveness with both set of players going in hard in the opening stages.
Singapore left-back Shakir Hamzah was an early casualty as he came off worse in a 50-50 challenge with Thitiphan Puangchan and had to be carried off after just 12 minutes.
Hariss Harun, 18 December 2021
Despite that, the Lions were largely on top in the first half-hour with Safuwan Baharudin going close off a set-piece, while Hami Syahin saw his 25-yard snapshot parried by Thailand goalkeeper Siwarak Tedsungnoen.
However, the Thais took the lead somewhat against the run of play on 31 minutes. Bordin Phala’s free-kick was superbly tipped on the post by Hassan Sunny, but Dolah was at the right place at the right time to convert the rebound.
Hassan produced two saves within a space of a minute to deny Supachai and Thitiphan, but was helpless to stop a second strike two minutes into first-half stoppage time.
Worachit Kanitsribampen’s through ball picked out Supachai, who had the space and time to slam home a low drive.
Hami Syahin, 18 December 2021
The hosts returned for the second half with renewed vigour and Safuwan volleyed over after a half-cleared set-piece situation on 51 minutes, before Shawal Anuar was foiled in a one-on-one opportunity eight minutes later.
Nur Adam Abdullah and Saifullah Akbar were then brought on for their Suzuki Cup debuts for the final 25 minutes as Singapore continued to press for a way back, with Irfan Fandi lashing another effort wide in the 75th minute.
But the Thais saw out the victory and while defeat was disappointing, Tatsuma preferred to look at the big picture while acknowledging the room for improvement.
“I understand the fans’ frustrations, but we have qualified for the semi-finals for the first time in nine years,” he said. “Singapore football is definitely on the way to improvement… Everyone including the media and fans, have to come together to support this team.”
Singapore: Hassan Sunny (GK), Zulqarnaen Suzliman, Irfan Fandi, Safuwan Baharudin, Shakir Hamzah (Zulfahmi Arifin 12’ (Amirul Adli 89’)), Shahdan Sulaiman, Hariss Harun (C), Hami Syahin (Saifullah Akbar 65’), Shawal Anuar (Nur Adam Abdullah 65’), Faris Ramli, Ikhsan Fandi (Amy Recha 89’).
Unused subs: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Syazwan Buhari (GK), Nazrul Nazari, M. Anumanthan, Hafiz Nor, Song Uiyoung, Adam Swandi.