Singapore denied AYA Bank Cup after extra-time 3-0 loss to Vietnam

Singapore battled hard to hold Vietnam for 90 minutes, but jadedness eventually proved to be a factor as they let in three in extra time to let slip of the AYA Bank Cup.  

The Lions had to settle for second place in the friendly quadrangular at the Thuwunna YTC Stadium on Monday night.

Singapore had put up an admirable defensive display in regulation time, but were visibly tired.

Vietnam turned on the style in extra time with Le Cong Vinh, Nguyen Van Quyet and Dinh Thanh Trung scoring the goals to demolish the jaded Lions and claim the AYA Bank Cup via a resounding 3-0 victory.

New Singapore coach V Sundramoorthy made a couple of tactical changes for this game, with captain Hariss Harun returning to his favoured midfield role while Safuwan Baharudin was deployed as the lone striker.

Fazrul Nawaz paid the price for his profligacy in the 1-0 win against Myanmar three days ago as he was dropped to the bench.  

The decision to field Safuwan upfront did not pay dividends for Singapore as the PDRM FA man often dropped too deep to get the knock-ons from long balls.

It proved to be a drab first half as both sides failed to get any shots on target.

Singapore centre-back Baihakki Khaizan nodded over from Gabriel Quak’s teasing cross on seven minutes, before Vietnam captain Cong Vinh curled a 25-yard free-kick just over the bar in the 33rd minute.

Vietnam had another good chance three minutes later when Pham Thanh Luong’s inswinging corner was half-cleared by the Singapore defence, but Van Quyet was unable to fire the rebound home.

Singapore could have ended the first half on top when Azhar Sairudin teed up Gabriel Quak from a neat set piece, but the latter skied his first-time effort high into the stadium’s floodlights.

With things still not going their way after the break, Sundram threw on Khairul Amri to replace Azhar on the hour mark – which meant Safuwan was withdrawn into the number 10 role.

However, Vietnam continued to dominate proceedings and went close to scoring on two occasions.

First Van Quyet drew a top-drawer reaction save from Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny after escaping the attentions of two defenders, then Cong Vinh’s cheeky lob over Hassan was somehow hacked onto the crossbar and post by the backtracking Baihakki Khaizan.

Singapore nearly stole it on 74 minutes though, with Safuwan rising highest to meet Madhu Mohana’s long throw into the area but his header was cleared off the line by an alert Vietnam defender.

Eventually the game headed for extra time, where the tired Lions had no answer to waves after waves of attack from Vietnam.

Just 20 seconds after the restart, Cong Vinh strode onto Van Quyet’s through ball before finishing with aplomb past a stranded Hassan in the Singapore goal.

Then on 99 minutes, the duo exchanged roles as Van Quyet collected Cong Vinh’s deflected pass before whipping home an unerring shot into the bottom left corner.

Nguyen Huu Thang’s men sealed the win in style in the 114th minute, with substitute Thanh Trung racing onto Nguyen Van Toan’s through ball before lashing home a sizzling grounder past the helpless Hassan.