Singapore fall again in Hong Kong, extend winless streak
V. Sundramoorthy made six changes to the starting line-up that drew 0-0 with Malaysia last Friday at Mong Kok Stadium, but things never really worked out for the visitors as their Hong Kong hoodoo continued.
With half their outfield department comprising naturalised citizens, the hosts were always going to present a sterner test than Malaysia and so it proved.
After an even opening ten minutes or so, Kim Pan-gon’s charges began to gain the upper hand and only excellent tracking back from M. Anumanthan prevented Sandro from getting through on goal.
Lam Ka Wai then tested Izwan Mahbud with a tame volley on the half-hour, with the goalkeeper having to smother Alexander Akande’s effort four minutes later.
It was the Nigeria-born forward, one of five imports in the lineup, who broke the deadlock on 42 minutes. A smart run broke the offside trap, before the 27-year-old dispatched a clinical low shot into the bottom left corner.
The Lions had set up in a more traditional 4-4-2 as Sundramoorthy experimented with his tactics, handing out an international debut to Irfan Fandi as well. The 19-year-old, son of local legend Fandi Ahmad, joined Khairul Amri upfront but found the going tough against towering centre-backs Fetus Baise and Hélio.
The visitors never really got going throughout the first half and much of the second half, struggling to find any sort of attacking rhythm, even if the statistics would reflect they had more shots and corners at the final whistle.
Apart from a tame effort each from Amri and Iqbal Hussain, Yapp Hung Fai was barely troubled in the Hong Kong goal. His most meaningful action was a fine save to push away Iqbal’s fierce effort, but that came in the third minute of stoppage time with the game already sewn up.
That came courtesy of Huang Yang’s unerring finish from just inside the box on 70 minutes, as the midfielder found the same corner Akande did for the first. The 32-year-old, who turned in a solid display, finished off a move that involved two substitutes - Jaimes McKee heading down Roberto’s cross to Akande, who laid it off for Huang.
It was unfortunate timing for Singapore, who had appeared to belatedly get back into the game. Iqbal had flashed a fierce effort from a difficult angle over, while Anumanthan started to spray some beautiful passes.
Huang’s goal was the signal for the home side to shut up shop though and while Yasir Hanapi really should have broken Singapore’s duck, spurning two late chances from unmarked positions, Hong Kong saw out the game with relative ease.
The result left Singapore win-less in five straight games for the first time since February 2012 and Sundramoorthy should have plenty to chew on ahead of the AFF Suzuki Cup.
Main Photo: Hong Kong FA