SINGAPORE — Singapore’s bid to win their first-ever SEA Games football gold got off to a disappointing start on Tuesday (26 November), after the Young Lions were held to a 0-0 draw against Laos in at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
Against what is perceived as one of the weaker teams in a tough opening group, Fandi Ahmad’s Under-22 charges struggled to break down an organised and determined Laos side, and could even have lost the match as their opponents had a couple of late penalty claims.
Ironically, the Laos side were coached by former Singapore national coach and football star, V. Sundram Moorthy, whose tenure with the Lions was dogged by defensive, negative football.
Yet, his pragmatic style was effective on Tuesday, as the Young Lions could not find a way past his side’s defence line, even though Fandi trotted out a strong starting up that include reigning S-League Player of the Year Faris Ramli.
“Obviously we are very disappointed because we could have gotten the three points. It wasn't our best game but we still created a number of chances which we should have scored,” Fandi told The Straits Times.
“This was a game we wanted to win so it would be easier for us later. We saw Indonesia beat (champions) Thailand 2-0 earlier, and it is a very tough group.”
Indeed, with the Indonesians stunning the defending champions, and Vietnam thrashing Brunei 6-0 in the other Group B match, the Young Lions would need to secure a good result against Indonesia in their next match on Thursday.