International Friendly (U23): Singapore Dominates Proceedings To Exact Revenge On India

Aaron Chan
Writer / Editor
The Unofficial S.League Podcast

International Friendly (Under-23) - 12 July 2017: Following a win in the first of two friendlies played here, India was heavily tipped to win the rematch between the two sides earlier this evening.

Perhaps it was a collective determination within the local boys to prove their detractors wrong, but a spirited performance by the home team had the favoured Indians pushed back into their own half for a large part of the game as Singapore dominated the proceedings and came away with a 1-0 victory with Ikhsan Fandi converting a penalty in the 51st minute.

The Indians had the lion's share of the possession when the two teams first met on Sunday and perhaps they were taken aback when a revitalized Singapore side unleashed wave after wave of attack with Haiqal Pashia, Muhaimin Suhaimi and Hanafi Akbar causing all sorts of problems for the Indian backline.

Hanafi was perhaps the best player for Singapore, repeatedly dropping deep to collect the ball before bursting away on one of his signature weaving runs and he should have scored in the 27th minute when he cut past Lalruatthara's outstretched boot but belted his effort tantalizingly close over the bar instead of placing it home.

The Balestier Khalsa midfielder created two more chances before the break, crossing for Ihksan, who could not get a clean connection with a header off the squared ball, and putting Muhaimin through on goal only for the Garena Young Lions midfielder to be foiled by a lunging tackle by Jerry Lalrinzuala.

The start of the second half saw a moment of brilliance by Nikhil Poojary when he slalomed past the Singapore defence but his shot went well wide of the upright.

A quick counter attack then saw Syahrul Sazali being brought down while marauding into India's penalty box and Ikhsan converted the spot kick in fashion, drilling it off the bottom of the crossbar and leaving custodian Vishal Kaith with absolutely no chance.

Illyas Lee had a chance to extend the lead in the 58th minute when he went for a spectacular flying volley off Muhaimin's cross and the Singapore skipper's effort whistled just off target.

India dangerman Manvir Singh nearly equalised for the Indians when he drilled a shot from close range but Hairul Syirhan, who came on at half-time, displayed amazing agility to turn it past the upright.

Despite the scare, Singapore never let their foot off the gas and Hami Syahin spotted Vishal off his line and tried to lob him from distance but missed the target by mere inches before the referee called time on one of the most impressive outings for the Yangon-bound Singapore Under-23s.

Speaking to the press after the game, Singapore Under-23 Head Coach Richard Tardy cited that it was the team's willingness to recover the ball quickly after losing possession which led to the win, apart from knowing their opponents better after their first encounter last weekend. "After the first game, I knew their team and how it was organised better. I knew I could rely on (Haiqal) Pashia's speed and I must say that our defence did very well, containing the threat that both Manvir Singh and Daniel Lalhlimpuia posed to us. It is good to finish our (AFC Under-23 Championship Qualifiers) with a win,"

On the upcoming qualifiers next week, Tardy was candid about his assessment on the team and the opponents they would be facing. "We know that Myanmar is a very good team." said the Frenchman about the Group Stage hosts, whom Singapore would face in the opening game on 19th July.

"We know that it will be difficult against both Myanmar and Australia and we know that in order to advance (from the Group Stage), we will need at least two wins. Despite what was written in the press, it is not as easy a group as some make it out to be. I hope that the nation will come behind the team and support our young boys for this competition." he added.

Singapore will meet Myanmar, Australia and Brunei in the Group Stage fixtures of the qualifiers, which will be held in Yangon between 19th July to 23rd July.

Singapore Under-23 Lineup: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK) (Hairul Syirhan 46’), Lionel Tan, Amirul Adli (Shahrin Saberin 62’), Darren Teh, Faizal Roslan (Syahrul Sazali 46’), Illyas Lee (C) (Hafiz Sulaiman 80’), Hami Syahin, Muhaimin Suhaimi (Zulqarnaen Suzliman 65’), Hanafi Akbar (Taufik Suparno 89’), Haiqal Pashia , Ikhsan Fandi (Amiruldin Asraf 70’)

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