1-0 victories were the order of the day as Singapore and Thailand picked up narrow victories against the Philippines and Timor Leste respectively on Monday.
Hosts Singapore are off to a good start in Group A after edging the Philippines, while defending champions Thailand picked up their second win in as many games after overcoming Timor Leste in Group B.
Philippines 0 Singapore 1
FULL HIGHLIGHTS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsJJA-ER16M
Sheikh Abdul Hadi was the unlikely hero for Singapore as his first-half header proved to be the difference between the sides.
The Young Lions enjoyed several opportunities throughout the game, but only managed to put one away.
Sahil Suhaimi spurned three chances before hitting the post via a 20-yard shot, while winger Stanely Ng failed to convert despite being put through on goal by Shamil Sharif.
Shakir Hamzah put the ball into the back of the net just after the half-hour mark but the ‘goal’ was ruled out for an infringement on Philippines keeper Florencio Badelic Jr.
The breakthrough finally came on the stroke of half time when Safirul Sulaiman’s delightful free kick laid it on a platter for Hadi to nod home inside the left-hand post.
The Young Azkals could have levelled matters 12 minutes after the break after Francisco Santos gave Sheikh the slip on the way into the box, but the right-back was foiled by Singapore keeper Syazwan Buhari on an one-on-one opportunity.
The Young Lions dominated the last half-hour but were unable to find the second goal.
Sahil fired wide from six yards out while substitute Irfan Fandi’s powerful shot from just outside the box was tipped over by Badelic Jr.
Faris Ramli then wasted an opportunity to score from an indirect set play, after the Philippines goalkeeper was adjudged to have handled Neil Dorimon’s attempted back pass.
Thailand 1 Timor Leste 0
FULL HIGHLIGHTS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n66q-_HtPFw
Over in Group B, Rungrath Poomchantuek’s first-half goal was enough for Thailand to claim all three points against a gritty Timor Leste side.
As expected, the Thais were dominant from the get-go and created several openings throughout.
Captain Sarach Yooyen thought he had given his side the lead on 18 minutes when he put the ball in from close range after Timor Leste keeper Ramos Maxanches had parried Chananan Pompubpha’s shot, but the ‘goal’ was ruled for an infringement.
Playmaker Chanathip Songkrasin then saw his powerful shot deflected wide, before Rungrath somehow put over just in front of goal upon following up from Sarach’s parried freekick.
Rungrath redeemed himself just a minute before the break as he latched onto a superb Chanathip through ball, before clipping a neat finish beyond the reach of Maxanches for the opening goal.
They should have extended their lead to two 10 minutes after the restart, when winger Nurul Sriyankem was brought down by a crude challenge by Timor Leste defender Ezequiel Fernandes.
However Chananan’s resulting spot kick was superbly parried to safety by Maxanches.
Choketawee Promput’s side continued to spurn chances late on as Thitiphan Puangchan and Chaowat Veerachat saw his efforts denied by the on-form Timor Leste keeper, before centre-back Artit Daosawang lashed over after a half-cleared corner.
Photo: Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee/ Action Images via Reuterscomments