Vietnam vs Singapore: Will Sundram’s Lions build on unimpressive victory?

AYA Bank Cup Final | Thuwunna YTC Stadium| Mon 6 June | 6.00pm AST (7.30pm SGT)

Billed as

Vietnam Form

  • Hong Kong 2-2 (4-3 pen) Vietnam (AYA Bank Cup)
  • Vietnam 2-0 Syria (Friendly)
  • Iraq 1-0 Vietnam (WCQ)
  • Vietnam 4-1 Chinese Taipei (WCQ)
  • Vietnam 0-3 Thailand (WCQ)

Singapore Form

  • Myanmar 0-1 Singapore (AYA Bank Cup)
  • Afghanistan 2-1 Singapore (WCQ)
  • Singapore 2-1 Myanmar (Friendly)
  • Singapore 1-2 Syria (WCQ)
  • Singapore 0-3 Japan (WCQ)

Good test for Singapore against another Southeast Asian opponent ahead of Suzuki Cup.

The lowdown

Compact as a unit, solid in defence, focusing on counter-attacks and emerging with a one-goal victory – Singapore’s 1-0 win against Myanmar on Friday bore all the evidence brought by new national team coach V Sundramoorthy.

Under predecessor Bernd Stange, the Lions tried to play pretty passing football but too often failed to do it with the excellence of world-class teams like Barcelona and Spain – understandably.

Critics may point to Singapore being under the cosh for large periods of the game against Myanmar, but in the end a win is a win. The result provides a good platform for Sundram to build on as he prepares the squad for a stern test against another Southeast Asian opponent in Vietnam.

The Golden Stars are gradually rebuilding under new coach Nguyen Huu Thang and have done pretty well in 2016 so far. Apart from a narrow 1-0 loss to Asian powerhouse Iraq, they were not defeated in the other three matches.

They came into the AYA Bank Cup on the back of an impressive 2-0 scalp of Syria in a friendly, before emerging victorious on penalties after a 2-2 draw with Hong Kong in the tournament’s semi-finals.

The result set up a first meeting with Singapore in six years for the final of the friendly quadrangular.   

Team News

Both coaches should be happy to see their players getting through their respective games on Friday unscathed, with fully-fit squads to call upon.

In particular, Singapore will welcome back centre-back Madhu Mohana, who served out the second of his two-match suspension against Myanmar.

That could well free vice-captain Hariss Harun to return to his favoured midfield role.

Key Battle: Le Cong Vinh vs Madhu Mohana

It is no secret that if Singapore want to prevail, they have to shut out the man dubbed as Vietnam’s David Beckham.

Cong Vinh, who shot to fame in their 2008 Suzuki Cup triumph, is now the team’s elder statesman but age has proved to be no barrier with the 30-year-old raking up a total of 45 goals in 73 international appearances, including five in the last four – two coming in the 2-2 draw against Hong Kong.

The man tasked to handle him is probably the returning Madhu. The 25-year-old has endured an indifferent year with Warriors FC so far, but is still one of the best central defenders which Sundram has at his disposal.

He will have to pull out all the stops to stop the crafty Cong Vinh from wreaking havoc.

The Coaches

It has been a good start so far for Vietnam coach Nguyen Huu Thang, having led them to 2 wins and 1 draw in his four games in charge since taking over from Toshiya Miura in February.

However, the 44-year-old former national team captain has plenty of thinking to do in terms of shoring up his backline with his side displaying defensive frailties against Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Singapore counterpart V Sundramoorthy has gotten the first victory which he desired, but there is still some work to be done for this upcoming game.  

The 50-year-old will have to decide whether to stick with the starting eleven that started against Myanmar, or give the rest some valuable playing time. Those players include Izwan Mahbud, Afiq Yunos, Khairul Amri and Amy Recha, who is surely yearning for his first cap. 

Last Five Meetings

  • Vietnam 1-0 Singapore (AFF Cup, Dec ‘10)
  • Vietnam 1-1 Singapore (Friendly, Nov ’10)
  • Vietnam 2-2 Singapore (Friendly, Oct ‘09)
  • Singapore 0-1 Vietnam (AFF Cup, Dec’ 08)
  • Vietnam 0-0 Singapore (AFF Cup, Dec ’08)

Facts and Figures

The two sides are separated by 16 places in the FIFA world rankings – Vietnam are ranked 133rd, while Singapore are at 149th.

Singapore shades it in terms of the head-to-head records. In 17 previous meetings, Singapore has won seven while Myanmar triumphed six times. The other six matches ended up in draws.

Singapore kept their first clean sheet in six matches in the 1-0 win against Myanmar on Friday.

FourFourTwo Prediction

Should be a hard-fought battle between these two sides and may well go down to penalties. A 1-1 draw at full time, with Singapore walking away with the cup via the lottery shootout.