Singapore 2-0 Laos: Tidy win for the Lions ahead of Suzuki Cup defence
The reigning ASEAN champions got off to the best possible start as they found the breakthrough after just five minutes.
Shaiful Esah, one of the five changes made by head coach Bernd Stange, whipped in a superb corner for Baihakki to nod home his fourth goal in national colours.
The former, who plays for Tampines Rovers in the S.League, continued to create danger with his set pieces as he teed up Shahdan Sulaiman whose shot was blocked, before firing in a 30-yard free-kick which Laos keeper Seng Athit Somvang had to keep out.
The visitors, who are seven places over Singapore in the FIFA rankings, took their time to settle and only carved out their first scoring opportunity after the opening 20 minutes.
Right winger Vilayout Sayyabounsou cut inside Shaiful before forcing a save from Singapore keeper Hassan Sunny from a tight angle.
However, David Booth’s side found themselves two goals down after the half-hour mark.
Shahdan Sulaiman delivered a quick free kick to Faris Ramli received a quick free kick down the right, before the Courts Young Lions star delivering an inch-perfect cross for Khairul Amri to nod home at the far post and double the Lions’ lead.
Laos did have a chance to pull one back thereafter, but Sayyabounsou’s run was superbly halted by Safuwan Baharudin.
Singapore maintained their two-goal advantage till half time, before Stange switched things around 10 minutes into the second half – the German bringing on Khairul Nizam and Al-Qaasimy Rahman for Sahil Suhaimi and Ismadi Mukhtar respectively .
Those changes failed to make much of an impact however, as Nizam toiled hard upfront without much support from his fellow attackers.
Further changes were made in the final 15 minutes, disrupting the Lions’ rhythm as they failed to force out any decent openings thereafter.
The Laotians were nevertheless unable to put the Lions’ defence under pressure, leaving Hassan’s gloves largely unstained.
The rain eventually began down as the game edged towards full time, with the Lions seeing out the win – only their only second in nine international matches played this year - for a much-needed boost ahead of the Suzuki Cup.
Singapore XI: Hassan Sunny; Ismadi Mukhtar (Al-Qaasimy Rahman 54’), Baihakki Khaizan (Amirul Adli 87’), Safuwan Baharudin, Shaiful Esah; Hariss Harun, Shahdan Sulaiman (Zulfahmi Arifin 83’); Faris Ramli, Shahril Ishak (Shahfiq Ghani 75’), Khairul Amri (Fazrul Nawaz 79’); Sahil Suhaimi (Khairul Nizam 54’)
Photo credit: Lim Weixiang/FourFourTwo