Singapore U22 Laos U22: Welcome Laos victory gives Lions a glimmer of hope

Ahead of Singapore’s clash with Laos at the SEA Games, coach Richard Tardy said the Young Lions had only a five per cent chance of reaching the semi-finals following consecutive defeats to start the competition.

His under-22 charges responded by playing without fear and picking up a comfortable 2-0 victory, performing like they were still well in contention in as they brushed aside Mike Wong’s team.

Tardy introduced Taufik Suparno, Hanafi Akbar and Adam Swandi into the starting 11 and these players showed they could and perhaps should have started the previous two defeats against Malaysia and Myanmar.

The early goal spurred the team on as the Cubs dominated the game from that point

They were influential as Singapore scored two goals in the first half that sealed the Lions’ first victory in their SEA Games campaign.

With fans still settling into the stadium, Singapore already meant business and scored within two minutes. Hami Syahin orchestrated a delicious through ball for Hanafi Akbar as the Balestier Khalsa winger delivered a well-timed cross for Taufik Suparno to finish.

The early goal spurred the team on as the Cubs dominated the game from that point. Just eight minutes later, the ever-lively Ikhsan Fandi went charging inside the Laos penalty area and danced past their defenders.

In the process, he was brought down by Lounlasy Lathasay and won a penalty. Ikhsan himself stepped up to take the spot kick, calmly finishing it past Paseuth Saymanolinh.

Unlike the previous two games where Singapore sat back for much of the game, they were more attacking against Laos with much of the action being played through Hanafi Akbar. The 22-year-old tormented the Laos defence with his trickery.

High-flying: Hanafi was influential throughout the match

Ikhsan too was causing all sorts of trouble to Laos and might have scored more than just the one goal.

Right before half-time, there was a chance for him to get his brace but his touch was too heavy past the keeper as a covering defender reached in time to clear the loose ball.

Although the second half did not feature much goal-mouth action, it was more end-to-end. Laos almost got a goal back three minutes after half-time but Natphasouk Soukchinda’s powerful header was straight at Zhafran Rohaizad.

Taufik too could have earned his brace minutes from the final whistle but his shot hit the side netting. And right before time, substitute Joshua Pereira hit the post as he latched onto a loose ball inside the six-yard area.

The match would eventually end 2-0 as Singapore leapfrog Laos and Brunei into third on the table.

The other game in Group A on Friday, Myanmar against Brunei, ended 5-0 to the former.

It means Singapore will have to beat Brunei in their last game with a very big margin and hope that both Laos and Myanmar defeat Malaysia if the Young Lions can seal an unlikely place in the next round. 

Photos: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo