Malaysia 2 Singapore 1: Tigers seal second straight SEA Games victory

For more than 60 minutes, Singapore's SEA Games fortunes looked like taking a turn for the better. Then old rivals Malaysia flipped the script to leave the Lions in major trouble already and the hosts looking well placed to progress...

When Amiruldin Asraf scored a stunner to put Singapore 1-0, it seemed like the Lions might just be able to pick up a crucial win in the Causeway Derby.

But the Malaysian under-22 team might have dealt the knock-out blow to Singapore already. Having lost their first two games, it seems likely Richard Tardy’s men are on the verge of leaving the tournament.

Although the Malaysians were always threatening, their only real chance in the first half was when Safawi curled his free-kick onto the bar

It was perhaps the tale of two halves as the Lions put up a more spirited start following their opening 2-0 defeat to Myanmar and registered a couple of shots on target in the first half.

Granted, Malaysia made it difficult with their continuous attacking pressure but Singapore’s defence dealt with the problems diligently for the majority of the first 45 minutes.

Much of Singapore’s attack came on a counter and Hami Syahin finally broke past the Malaysian defence in the 17th minute to get a clear shot at goal. Unfortunately for him, goalkeeper Haziq Nadzli was equal to his shot.

But 20 minutes later, Home United’s Amiruldin Asraf fired a scrumptious shot from at least 30 yards and the ball rippled the net, sending the boys into delirium.

Right after the stunner, Hami could have claimed another screamer for himself too. His cheeky free-kick surprised everyone and almost crept in the top corner but the woodwork denied his brave effort.

Although the Malaysians were always threatening, their only real chance in the first half was when Safawi curled his free-kick onto the bar on the stroke of half-time.

N.Thanabalan scored the winner after capitalising on a defensive error in the Singapore penalty area

After the break, the Tigers were the better side. They had more purpose in their attack, especially with the introduction of N. Thanabalan proving to be effective. The hosts switched to second gear and tirelessly taunted the Lions.

They got their equaliser in the 68th minute, with Azam Azih equalling Amiruldin’s stunning strike with a cracker of his own – he powered his shot from 20 yards out.

With the goal, their spirits were higher than those in red and they predictably took advantage of that situation. N.Thanabalan scored the winner after capitalising on a defensive error in the Singapore penalty area from a deflected shot and buried his chance from a few yards out.

This result for Ong Kim Swee’s charges means they sit second in Group A, below Myanmar on goal difference, while Singapore are bottom.

Singapore face Laos next on Friday and Malaysia will have to jostle against Myanmar to potentially decide who tops group A.

Photo: Weixiang Lim/FFT