National Teams – Age-group ● Feb 20, 2022

The AFF U23 campaign comes to an end


The Singapore team on 19 February 2022. 


PHNOM PENH, 19 FEBRUARY 2022 –  With 10 players missing from the squad, the odds were stacked against the Singapore Men’s Under-23 National Team from the get go.


Try as they might, the boys ultimately fell 7-0 to a superior Vietnamese side in their second and final Group C match of the ASEAN Football Confederation (AFF) U23 Championship 2022 campaign. Coupled with the defeat to Thailand three days earlier, it meant that the U23s’ journey in the tournament came to an end.


In his pep talk before the match, Head Coach Nazri Nasir emphasised that the remaining 14 players had to show character, take responsibility and be courageous against the Vietnamese. His message seemed to have gotten across to the boys as they started brightly. Pressing the Vietnamese backline with intent, the front three forced them into making several mistakes in the opening exchanges and Singapore was seemingly on the front foot. 


However, the Vietnamese scored in their first foray into the Singapore’s defensive third. Captain Dung Quang Nho picked up the ball on the right flank and his cross was met by Nguyen Van Tung. Singapore almost equalised immediately, but Ilhan Fandi’s goal-bound header was cleared off the line. 


Ilhan Fandi’s header was cleared off the line by a Vietnamese defender. 


Growing in confidence, the Vietnamese controlled the game and it was only a matter of time before they added a second goal. In the 32nd minute, playmaker Dinh Xuan Tien picked up a loose ball from just inside the box and placed the ball into the bottom left corner to make it 2-0. Five minutes later, the Vietnamese all but sealed the game when Van Tung tapped in his second goal of the game from a Tran Van Thang cross. 


The second half started in a similar fashion, with the Vietnamese taking control of the game. Things went from bad to worse for Singapore when centre-back Jordan Emaviwe was sent off in the 57th minute for a second bookable offence. This forced Coach Nazri to switch Ryaan Sanizal, played out of position at right back, back to his more natural centre back position and push midfielder Jared Gallagher out to take the latter’s place. 


The Vietnamese soon capitalised on their numerical advantage. Quang Nho pounced on a defensive mistake and finished calmly past goalkeeper Ridhwan Fikri on 56 minutes before registering his second assist of the night with a low cross for Nguyen Ngoc Thang to make it 5-0 in the 78th minute. It was 6-0 in the 89th minute when Nguyen Thanh Koi reacted the quickest to convert a rebound after Ridhwan had saved a shot from Nguyen Quoc Viet.


With the game long settled, the referee decided to add five minutes of extra time and the Vietnamese managed to find the back of the net once more when substitute Vu Tien Long scored with the last kick of the game.


Despite the unflattering scoreline tonight and the challenges experienced by the team since they arrived in Cambodia, Coach Nazri still believes that there are some positives to be found from this tournament.


“Everyone knows the challenging circumstances we are in, and this situation brought out the best in some players,” he said. “You could see the desire from some of the boys. They really wanted to play and to give their all for the team and they took responsibility. I am very proud of these players.


“I also believe that it was good preparation for the upcoming Southeast Asian Games. The two matches showed what we need to work on so that we can improve by then.”


Singapore: Ridhwan Fikri (GK)(C), Ryhan Stewart, Jordan Emaviwe, Syed Akmal, Ryaan Sanizal, Jared Gallagher, Shah Shahiran, Saifullah Akbar, Glenn Kweh, Danish Qayyum, Ilhan Fandi (Abdul Rasaq 75′).
Unused subs: Riki Kimura (GK), Umayr Sujuandy (GK).


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