Singapore vs Malaysia: Rivals out to assert Suzuki Cup title credentials

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International Friendly | National Stadium| Fri 7 Oct |8:30pm 

Billed as

A chance for either side to put their recent troubles behind them

The lowdown

Singapore Form

  • Bahrain 3-1 Singapore (Friendly)
  • Cambodia 2-1 Singapore (Friendly)
  • Vietnam 3-0 (AET) Singapore (AYA Bank Cup)
  • Myanmar 0-1 Singapore (AYA Bank Cup)
  • Afghanistan 2-1 Singapore (WCQ)

Malaysia Form

  • Indonesia 3-0 Malaysia (Friendly)
  • Fiji 1-1 Malaysia (Friendly)
  • New Caledonia 1-2 Malaysia (Friendly)
  • Papua New Guinea 2-0 Malaysia (Friendly)
  • Timor-Leste 0-3 Malaysia (Friendly)

There haven’t been any positive coming out from either the Singapore or Malaysia camps in recent months.

The Lions have won just once in their last five matches, which included a defeat at the hands of Cambodia, while the Tigers have won just three times in the last nine matches.

With the AFF Suzuki Cup less than two months away, it doesn’t bode well for both sides, especially with all the turmoil surrounding both teams.

For Singapore, much of the negativity surrounding them is because of their inability to grind out results.

Their general play on the pitch has left much to be desired, while their over-reliance on Khairul Amri up front is worryingly as well.

Still, they are in a better shape than Malaysia, who have had a number of key players retiring from international duties in recent month and a club vs country tussle over the services of Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) players.

Still, they are in a better shape than Malaysia, who have had a number of key players retiring from international duties.

That has left Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee struggling to put out a team that is strong enough, which was evident when they were trounced 3-0 by Indonesia in August.

As such, Ong is still trying to find his best eleven, which will be a much changed side from the one that defeated Singapore at the same venue during the last edition of the Suzuki Cup.

Team News

The Malaysians have brought a 25-man squad after leaving behind Matthew Davies, Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, Nasir Basharuddin, Ahmad Khuzaimi Piee and Ronny Harrun behind to get to shape for the friendly against Afghanistan on October 11 while the hosts have no injury concerns.

Both sides have no injury concerns, given that those out injured were not called up to the squad.

For Singapore, two uncapped players, Irfan Fandi and Shawal Anuar, could be given a chance to make their debuts. A third, goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari, will need to continue bidding his time given that he has Hassan Sunny and Izwan Mahbud ahead of him.

Meanwhile, Fahrudin Mustafic could also make his first appearance in the red jersey since being dropped by Bernd Stange in 2013.

For Malaysia, who have brought seven debutants to the Republic, Ong is likely to again field a scratch combination in the heart of defence, with Khairul Helmi Johari and Shahrul Saad expected to receive the nod.

Key Battle: Hariss Harun vs Baddrol Bakhtiar

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Hariss will familiar with his Malaysia counterparts

Controlling the midfield will be vital to winning this match and there will no doubt that all eyes will be on the battle between Hariss Harun and Baddrol Bakhtiar.

The importance of Hariss for Singapore can be seen in the defeat to Cambodia, where the Lions sorely missed his combative presence in the middle of the park.

Equally capable of helping out in defence or attack, having Hariss makes a whole lot of difference for Singapore.

On the other hand, the experienced Baddrol has proved to be a crafty player who excels at stringing passes together and unlocking the opponent’s backline.

Whoever comes out top in this battle will go a long way in helping their team to victory on Friday.

Last Five Meetings

  • Singapore 1-3 Malaysia (Nov’ 14, AFF Suzuki Cup)
  • Malaysia 0-3 Singapore (Nov’ 12, AFF Suzuki Cup)
  • Malaysia 2-0 Singapore (Jun’ 12, Friendly)
  • Singapore 2-2 Malaysia (Jun’ 12, Friendly)
  • Malaysia 1-1 Singapore (Jul’ 11, WCQ)
 

The coaches

As mentioned earlier, both coaches are certainly feeling the heat.

For V.Sundramoorthy, it is all about getting his players accustomed to his tactics and given that most players were under him during his time with the LionsXII in 2012 and 2013, it may all come together sooner rather than later.

On the other hand, Ong has a lot more work ahead of him, although time is definitely running out. Ong too has an advantage of knowing his former Malaysia under-23 charges but several of his protégés have not struck the right cords due to a lack of opportunities at their club.

Facts and Figures 

  • Since 2005, the Lions have won just twice in 16 meetings. 
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  • Khairul Amri, the Lions' top-scorer in the current squad, has found the back of the net against Malaysia on three different occasions 
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  • Only three Malaysians from the squad that defeated Singapore 3-1 in 2014 remain in the current national team setup. 

FourFourTwo's Prediction

Given that Malaysia’s problems appear to be worse than Singapore’s, this match will be there for the Lions’ taking. 2-1 to the hosts.