SEA Games: Singapore scrapes past Brunei in final match thanks to own goal

Nigel Chin
Reporter

Singapore’s Young Lions beat Brunei 1-0 in both sides’ final SEA Games match played at the Selayang Stadium on Wednesday (23 August) night. (PHOTO: Fadza Ishak for Yahoo News Singapore)

REPORTING FROM KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA 

It was the perfect opportunity for the Singapore Under-22 team to showcase their potential for the 2019 SEA Games.  But in the end, their performance only managed to cast more doubt on the team’s future. In their final SEA Games 2017 group match against Brunei at the Selayang stadium on Wednesday (23 Aug), they needed an own goal from defender Khalid Wassadisalleh to secure a 1-0 win.

It was not that they didn’t create chances. They did so after a slow start, but a combination of their profligacy in front of goal and some superb goalkeeping from Brunei goalkeeper Ishyra Asmin, who was named man of the match, prevented them from scoring more.

What made that more glaring was the fact that Brunei largely played their reserves.

[ PHOTOS: Singapore beat Brunei 1-0 at SEA Games ]

Singapore coach Richard Tardy admitted it was “not a very good performance” from his charges.

“We are not very happy because we had so many chances, especially in the second half, but we missed many occasions to score and you don’t know in football what can happen,” said Tardy.

However, he went on to add that the win did help them to achieve the minimum target of six points in the tournament, after what was a very difficult game against a team that had “nine players in front of the ball”.

“We kept the team at the same level in Pot 3 for the next SEA Games. They can be proud,” Tardy said of the boys.

Tardy, who has been talking about exposing the younger players in this year’s edition to prepare them for the 2019 SEA Games in Philippines, surprisingly chose to start with four players – Hanafi Akbar, Taufik Suparno, Shahrin Saberin, and Illyas Lee, who will be ineligible to play then.

Two more players – Adam Swandi and Amirul Adli may be ineligible as well should the competition remain at an U-22 level instead of reverting back to U-23, as it was before.

Yet, Tardy defended his choice.

“It is their last SEA Games,” Tardy explained. “I gave chances to all the (young) players, only Lionel (Tan) didn’t play.

“We took the chance against Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (to play those young players)… they did something in the SEA Games. Today, I gave some opportunities to those players who can’t play to finish it on a high.

“Perhaps, I made a mistake, I’m not sure. I want to push Amiruldin (Asyraf) out but physically it was too late. I had hope that we were winning after one hour by two or three goals, but it’s hard to put in the young players since we were not.”

Singapore’s Young Lions beat Brunei 1-0 in both sides’ final SEA Games match played at the Selayang Stadium on Wednesday (23 August) night. (PHOTO: Fadza Ishak for Yahoo News Singapore)

Tardy also said that the team is not that far off from the standard of Myanmar and Malaysia, the two teams that defeated Singapore and progressed into the knockout stages.

Yet, when asked if what he saw throughout the tournament from those eligible to play in the next SEA Games was enough to suggest that Singapore will have a better showing in Philippines, Tardy refused to give an answer.

“I don’t want to talk about it now. There’s two years to go and another guy will take the SEA Games team. I wasn’t supposed to take the team, I only did so because there was nobody,” Tardy said.  “I do my best. Today we performed in this tournament not very strong, not very well, but we are not bad. We beat Laos, we beat Brunei, so be positive.”

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