SEA Games 2023: Singapore suffer 0-7 humiliation by arch-rivals Malaysia
Despite the match being inconsequential, Malaysia showed far more fire in inflicting the humbling loss to their arch-rivals
SINGAPORE — Singapore's SEA Games men's football team were not fancied to advance out of their tough opening group.
They were not expected to lose 0-7 to Malaysia too.
However, that was the humiliating scoreline at the Prince Stadium in Phnom Penh on Thursday (11 May), as the Young Lions exited the competition without a win and without a shred of confidence.
This is their worst defeat at the SEA Games since 1971, when they were thrashed 1-8 by Burma (now Myanmar) in Kuala Lumpur.
And it could have been an even worse scoreline, had it not been for the heroic saves of Singapore goalkeeper Muhammad Aizil, and several attempts that hit the crossbar.
Judging by the slumping figures of the players, it could take a long while before Singapore recover from this humbling defeat.
Inconsequential dead rubber for both sides
After losing 1-3 to gold-medal favourites Thailand and Vietnam in their opening two matches, Singapore had to beat Laos to keep their semi-final hopes alive, but were instead held 0-0 last Saturday.
That meant they could not advance out of the group, even if they beat Malaysia, who were also out of contention for the semis after a 1-2 loss to Vietnam on Monday.
It made the match between these two arch-rivals essentially an inconsequential dead rubber.
And yet, the Malaysians roared out of the gates, intent on finishing their campaign on a high note.
Midfielder Saravanan Thirumurugan was a constant thorn among the Singapore defence, and he opened the scoring with a fine curling shot from outside the area in the 14th minute.
It was a one-sided affair, as Malaysia peppered Singapore with goal attempts after goal attempts, and they were rewarded with their second goal on the stroke of half-time, when Saravanan turned provider with a fine cross for Haqimi Azim to head home.
Collapse in the second half
That goal seemed to suck the life out of the Singapore players, and they collapsed in the second half to let in three goals in 15 minutes to the same player - Saravanan (47th, 53rd and 62nd minutes).
But the Malaysians were not about to stop yet.
In the 87th minute, captain Muhammad Mukhairi lashed home a long-range shot after the Young Lions failed to clear the ball. And in stoppage time, Aiman Afif completed the demolition job, cutting through the defence like butter to easily slot home.
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