First Friendly Bout Sees Young Lions Edge Vanuatu

Muhelmy Suhaimi challenges for the ball with Vanuatu's Jayson Timatua.
Photo: Football Association of Singapore

Aaron Chan
Writer / Editor
The Unofficial S.League Podcast

The Singapore Under-22s and the Vanuatu Under-20s played the first of their two friendlies at Choa Chu Kang Stadium earlier today and it was the Young Lions who emerged victorious in the first round, edging the young Vanuatuans with a 3-2 scoreline.

Vanuatu started off the match brightly and they topped it off with the opening goal in the 10th minute when Zharfan Rohaizad hesitated to clear the ball and Vanuatu captain Bong Kalo robbed it from the custodian's feet and slotted the ball home. Singapore Under-22 coach Richard Tardy then elected to bring on Fashah Iskandar after the goal was conceded as Zharfan appeared to have injured his foot while welting it against Kalo's boot in the clash.

Geylang International's Darren Teh received a brilliant pass from Taufik Suparno three minutes later and fired from the edge of the box, drawing a quick save from Daniel Alick before Amirul Adli nearly equalized when his effort flew just over the crossbar off Muhaimin Suhaimi's corner.

Kalo threatened the Singapore goal shortly after when he rocked the crossbar with a thunderous free kick and Muhaimin saw his free kick headed wide of the post by Taufik in the 24th minute.

The equalizer finally came for the Young Lions in the 28th minute when a well worked training ground routine saw Muhaimin's free kick played low to Hami Syahin, who let fly with a cracker of a shot which was deflected by captain Shahrin Saberin en route to goal, wrong footing Alick.

The same routine was employed just three minutes later and this time Alick was equal to the task, putting enough behind his save to push Hami's shot against the upright and out for a corner.

Hami continued to torment the young Vanuatu side and his blazing run down the right flank in the 44th minute saw the 18 year old provide a terrific low cross for Jordan Chan, who tapped it home from close range.

Hougang United centre back Lionel Tan came on for his Under-22 debut at half time and he nearly topped it off with a goal one minute after the restart but he could not stretch far enough to meet a teasing cross.

Taufik Suparno made a few good runs to create space for his teammates.
Photo: Football Association of Singapore

Alick was called into action once again in the 51st minute when Hami fired off a piledriver that the Vanuatuan had to stave off.

Faizal Roslan then replaced Teh in the 59th minute and the Garena Young Lions wingback only took three minutes to make an impact, providing a cross over Alick with pinpoint accuracy for Muhaimin to chest home into the back of the net from 5 yards out. 

Fashah made a fantastic save to deny Selwyn Vatu at full stretch midway through the second half and Lionel made a vital interception in the 72 minute to cut off an aerial pass directed to the open Bong Kalo.

Vanuatu substitute Azariah Soromon cut down the deficit to 3-2 with a diving header in the 74th minute and Faizal Roslan nearly restored the two goal cushion three minutes later when he showed great pace to peel away from his marker but his low cross was hoofed away before Ikhsan Fandi could get a touch.

Jason Thomas then nearly deflected Ikhsan's cross into his own net in the 82nd minute and Ikhsan had another cracking effort which whistled inches above the crossbar a minute later before the referee called time on an entertaining match.

"We lost four games and only scored one (goal) in Dubai so I'm happy that we scored three nice goals and won the match today." said Singapore Under-22s coach Richard Tardy. "However, we need to be stronger at the back. You could see that (the opponents) looked dangerous coming into the final third and we lost the ball at the first or second pass after recovering it. While we did create some good pressure (on the opponents) and had many free kicks and corner, we only managed to score one goal (from dead-ball situations) so we will work hard on that (aspect)." 

On having a second opportunity to face the Vanuatuans again on Thursday, Tardy was relishing the chance to field the players from Home United who missed today's match, as well as Balestier Khalsa's Hanafi Akbar. "We will see Irfan (Fandi), Adam (Swandi), Amiruldin (Asraf) and Hanafi play on Thursday and after that I will have an idea of my team of 25 players (for the SEA Games)."

Making his international debut for the Under-22 age group, Lionel Tan was pleased with the outcome of the game, "I think it's good that we managed to get the win but there is still lots of room for improvement. As a team, we need to play together more often to become better as a whole and we look to progress (as a team) from this."

When asked if he was surprised at his call-up, Lionel was really humble. "My main objective this year is to play as much as possible in the S.League. At the back of my mind, I just wanted to do my best for my club (Hougang United) so when the call-up came, I looked forward to come here and give my best. Whether the coach puts me (on the pitch) or not, I will still give my best when playing for the National Under-22s."

The Under-22s will face the Vanuatu Under-20s once again on Thursday night at Queenstown Stadium. The second bout will kick off at 7pm.

Full-Time at Choa Chu Kang Stadium - International Friendly (1 May 2017):

Singapore Under-22s - 3
Vanuatu Under-20s - 2


Singapore Under-22s - Shahrin Saberin 28', Jordan Chan 44', Muhaimin Suhaimi 62'
Vanuatu Under-20s - Bong Kalo 10', Azariah Soromon 74'

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