Five Talking Points: Stoke City v Singapore Select XI

FourFourTwo’s Kenneth Tan was at the National Stadium where the Singapore Select XI put up an encouraging display, despite falling to a two-goal defeat to Stoke City…

1. Sundram’s set piece advice not heeded

Singapore Select XI coach V Sundramoorthy emphasised at the pre-match press conference that they needed to be extra careful of Stoke’s set plays, where players like Peter Crouch can pose a threat. But it seems the players failed to listen.

From the first corner of the game, the defence fell asleep as Steven Sidwell was left criminally unmarked to tap Crouch’s – who else? – flick-on home from close range in just the sixth minute.

That was a truly disappointing start to this third-place playoff, considering they silenced Arsenal for most of the first 30 minutes before conceding the first goal three days ago.

2. The sky’s the limit for Izwan

Earning international recognition for the 18 saves in his clean sheet against Japan while on international duty, it must have been disappointing for Izwan to see four goals flying past him in the tournament opener against Arsenal.

The 25-year-old put up a much more assured performance this time around, showing good command of his six-yard box by coming off his line to collect crosses and thwarting the opposition attackers with his athleticism.

He saved at least three one-on-one opportunities in the game, with the highlight arguably coming in the 54th minute where he made himself big to deny substitute Mame Biram Diouf, who had been set-up via Sidwell’s delightful lofted pass.

Surely now Izwan is too good to be playing in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) with the LionsXII and a move to one of the top Asian leagues should beckon soon.

Photo credit: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo