Singapore U23 1 Cambodia U22 3: Nine-man Young Lions humbled

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The Singapore Under-23s' preparations for the upcoming SEA Games took a hit as they suffered a two-goal defeat to the Cambodia Under-22s at Jalan Besar Stadium on Thursday night.

Sahil Suhaimi got the Young Lions off to the best possible start by scoring inside two minutes, but the visiting Cambodians came roaring back.

Forward Phanny Y Ratha sparked the comeback just before half time, with captain Chan Vathanaka and substitute Samoeun Pidor finishing the job after the break.

The Young Lions also finished the game with just nine men as centre-backs Shakir Hamzah and Sheikh Abdul Hadi were shown straight reds by referee Ahmad A’Qashah.  

The spectators had barely settled into their seats when Sahil struck, as the LionsXII forward latched on to a lofted pass from Shahfiq Ghani before calmly slotting past Cambodian keeper Prak Mony Phirun.

Adam Swandi could have made it two for the young Lions in the 17th minute but his header from Shahfiq’s cross was too weak to trouble Prak.

Cambodia’s first opening came six minutes later when Phanny was almost through on goal, but Sheikh got back in time to deny the forward.

Visiting coach Lee Tae-Hoon then made a couple of substitutions which allowed his side to settle into the game and they eventually levelled matters a minute before half time.

Singapore captain Shakir was caught napping in possession at the back as Phanny stole in to fire a low shot past Syazwan Buhari.

Aide Iskandar tried to change matters after the break, making a slew of substitutions which included bringing on LionsXII starlet Christopher Van Huizen and 17-year-old Irfan Fandi.

Irfan almost made an instant impact four minutes after his introduction, but his spectacular scissors kick was well blocked by Cambodian defender Nen Sothearoth.

Instead, it was the visitors who grabbed a shock lead midway through the second half, after Shakir was adjudged to have fouled Prak Mony Udom inside the box.

It was double jeopardy for the 22-year-old as he also received his marching orders before Cambodian skipper Vathanaka put resulting spot-kick away.

Things got even better for the junior Angkor Warriors as they went 3-1 up four minutes later, with Samoeun sneaking in behind the makeshift defence of Sheikh and Anumanthan Mohan Kumar to clip home a fine finish past the onrushing Syazwan.

The night got worst for Aide's charges as Sheikh was dismissed for an altercation with a Cambodian player in injury time.

There was one final chance to give the home fans something to cheer about but Safirul Sulaiman could not keep his free kick on target. 

It is now back to the drawing board for Aide and his boys as they look to regroup before the SEA Games football competition kicks off in late May. 

Photo: Football Association of Singapore