Malaysia U22 vs Singapore U22: Causeway Derby with much at stake
The Causeway derby which can seal Singapore or Malaysia’s fate.
Both teams never really got going in their SEA Games’ opener on Monday and while both squads are looking to raise their performance in one way or another, the teams enter the match in different moods.
Ong Kim Swee’s men are seeking a second successive win after defeating Brunei 2-1 while Richard Tardy’s charges enter the match knowing that a defeat virtually ends any hope of reaching the last four.
Singapore lost their opening match to Myanmar 2-0 under wet conditions. The Lions had several chances throughout the match – including four shots by Ikhsan Fandi in eight minutes when the second half started – but struggled overall during the match.
Apart from flashes here and there, Singapore never looked like getting anything out of the match and Myanmar could have increased their win had they been more lethal in the final third.
Singapore will be hoping the Malaysians continue their struggle in the final third after finding it difficult to break lowly Brunei in the opener.
While Safawi Rasid was a threat with his long shots, the likes of Syafiq Ahmad and Jafri Firdaus Chew have seen better matches.
Malaysia controlled possession on Monday but many felt they had were below par in front of goal. Ong has already promised a better showing in coming matches, insisting that opening matches were always tough affairs.
This match is expected to be a heated affair because of the stakes involved.
Both countries are rivals on the pitch and off the pitch, with plenty of fans throwing barbs at each other just about on every occasion. Malaysian fans even threw insults at Singapore during the Brunei match.
The Malaysians are expected to name a changed line-up for the derby.
The likes of S. Kumaahran, Syamer Kutty Abba and Amirul Hisyam Awang Kechik could start after being left on the bench against Brunei. The trio, who are regulars for their respective Malaysia Super League (MSL) teams, will add stability to Malaysia’s midfield and bite up front.
Singapore are likely to rely on Ikhsan up front again as Adam Swandi is still doubtful after picking up an injury during club commitments last week.
Both teams have players that picked up knocks after the opening day but little has been said of them being unavailable.
KEY BATTLE: S. KUMAAHRAN VS IRFAN FANDI
The Penang forward is expected to replace Jafri in the line-up, as the latter picked up a knock in the game against Brunei.
With Safawi Rasid expected to run at defenders again, Kumaahran’s runs into space throw Singapore in disarray.
Singapore’s defence will be led by Irfan, who did well against Myanmar. However, the Young Lions’ backline must be on their toes for this fixture.
At the other end, Irfan’s brother Ikhsan will be hoping to break past the Malaysian defence and custodian Ifwat Akmal Chek Kassim.
FACTS & FIGURES
Malaysia and Singapore have played each other 14 times in the competition and half of the games ended in draws. Malaysia have won four times while the Singaporeans have three wins.
Both teams drew the last three times they met in the competition, dating back to the Korat Games in 2007.
Malaysia last defeated Singapore at the 2003 edition while Singapore's last win was in 1999 when it was still a senior team competition.
This Malaysia squad trounced Singapore 3-0 in the Under-21 Nations Cup last year.
Malaysia 2 Singapore 1: The hosts are stronger on paper and will have the backing of the home crowd to carry them through.