REPORTING FROM KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
Early goals from Taufik Suparno and Ikhsan Fandi helped Singapore to restore some hope in their SEA Games campaign.
The Young Lions defeated their counterparts from Laos, led by Singaporean Mike Wong, by a scoreline of 2-0 at the Selayang Stadium on Friday (18 August).
Singapore started the game quickly and poor organisation at the back by Laos allowed Taufik to ghost in at the far post to meet Hanafi Akbar’s cross from the left and score just two minutes into the game.
Eight minutes later, Ikhsan Fandi earned a penalty after Sipasong Bounthavy tripped him inside the box. The striker then picked himself up to slot it in from the spot to double the lead.
Laos registered their first genuine attempt in the game only 23 minutes in. A poor clearance from the Singapore defence presented a chance for Phanthavong Thanin, who lashed a shot narrowly wide from range.
Singapore’s continued piling the pressure on, but could not find a third goal and allowed Laos to settle into the game midway into the first half.
But it was Ikhsan who had another golden opportunity to score after he combined well with Taufik to get in behind the defence. His touch, however, was a heavy one as he tried to round the goalkeeper, and allowed a defender to recover and clear the ball away.
The second half was largely an even affair. Laos did threatened on a number of occasions after Singapore left plenty of gaps at the back, but weren’t able to capitalise.
Ikhsan did put the ball into the back of the net in the 53rd minute, but it was ruled out for infringement.
Laos came close to clawing a goal back after a well-worked move on the break saw Kongmathilath Phithack getting in behind the Singapore defence. The forward rushed his shot though, and only managed to fire it into the side netting.
Singapore coach Richard Tardy made some changes to the team but even those substitutions hardly worked, as Laos continued their forays forward.
Zharfan Rohaizad had to be alert to claw away a shot by Phommathep Phathana in the 78th minute, after he was allowed the space and time to pull the trigger.
Both Taufik and Pereira had chances late on to wrap up the win, but failed to make full use of it, although it didn’t matter in the end.
The win puts Singapore third in the five-team group A. For the Young Lions to stand any chance of qualifying, they must defeat Brunei on Wednesday and hope for Malaysia to lose to both Laos and Myanmar. Myanmar have already qualified following their 6-0 win over Brunei.