Singapore U22 vs Laos U22: Last hurrah for the Young Lions
Singapore’s last glimmer of hope and plenty of pride at stake
SINGAPORE RECENT FORM (U23)
- Singapore 1-2 Malaysia (SEA Games)
- Myanmar 2-0 Singapore (SEA Games)
- Singapore 4-1 Brunei (AFC U23)
- Singapore 0-7 Australia (AFC U23)
- Myanmar 2-0 Singapore (AFC U23)
With consecutive defeats to Myanmar and Malaysia virtually ending their SEA Games campaign, the Lions play for pride in their remaining matches against Laos and Brunei, with coach Richard Tardy admitting they only have a “five per cent” chance of progressing.
The Young Lions are sitting bottom of the five-team table in group A, while the victories by their two opponents have helped them move into first and second place in the standings.
The only way Singapore can somehow reach the semi-finals will be if Malaysia or Myanmar lose their final two games and the Lions win their respective games with big scorelines.
Although they lost those two games, it has to be said that the effort and determination from Tardy’s men was there.
Against Myanmar, two lapses of concentration resulted in a 2-0 defeat that did not really reflect the true events of the game and while Amiruldin Asraf’s stunning goal gave them some belief of beating Malaysia, they could not hold on until the end of the 90 minutes as the Tigers clawed their way back to win 2-1.
LAOS RECENT FORM (U23)
- Myanmar 3-1 Laos (SEA Games)
- Korea DPR 6-0 Laos (AFC U23)
- Hong Kong 1-1 Laos (AFC U23)
- Laos 3-1 Chinese Taipei (AFC U23)
- Laos 1-3 Malaysia (AFC U23)
Unlike Singapore, Laos have a better chance of progressing. Although they were defeated by Myanmar, Laos still play against Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei – winning all three will see them miraculously progressing to the semis.
Tardy has stated he will make changes to the squad and let those that did not feature much have their chance. This means that the likes of Hanafi Akbar, Adam Swandi, Taufik Suparno and Lionel Tan could start.
There might be a possibility for brothers Irfan and Ikhsan Fandi playing up front to boost Singapore’s chances of scoring some much-needed goals.
Laos will be desperate to take advantage of Singapore’s lack of confidence and pick up three points. Therefore, their coach Mike Wong will field his best team possible.
KEY BATTLE: Phatana Phommathep vs Amirul Adli
Amirul Adli was easily Singapore’s best player against Malaysia from a defensive point of view.
He intercepted Malaysia’s crucial passes, was there at the right times and right places and prevented the Tigers from scoring more.
MOST RECENT MEETINGS
- Laos 0-0 Singapore (March '15)
- Singapore 1-1 Laos (Dec ’13)
On Friday, he will come up against Phommathep who has been labelled the most talented player in Laos.
Phommathep also scored Laos’ lone goal against Malaysia and that attacking threat is something Amirul needs to be wary of.
Tardy will be assessing where it all went wrong as it has been a case of close, but no cigar for the Lions in the past two games.
The general consensus is he has been too ‘safe’ with leaving only Ikhsan up front. Against Myanmar, it was evident that Singapore were more threatening with more midfielders supporting Ikshan, but when the team is on the back foot, it is clear that Ikshan struggles.
Perhaps this time, Tardy will change the formation to let Ikshan play with a strike partner.
Wong, on the other hand, will take some consolation from Laos’ opening performance. Losing 1-0, they equalised against the impressive Myanmar side but could not hold on for the draw.
With plenty still to play for, Laos will have assessed the Lions’ weak points and will attempt to hit them while they’re down.
FACTS AND FIGURES
- The last two times these sides met at this age level it ended in draws (0-0 and 1-1 respectively).
- Malaysia and Myanmar need to lose their two games for Singapore to have a chance of progressing
- Singapore have not won any of their past three games in the SEA Games
- Laos have scored in their past three matches in the SEA Games, while Singapore only found the net once in their past three games.
This should be a tightly contested affair with both teams sharing the spoils. A 1-1 draw might be the likely outcome.
Photos: Weixiang Lim/FFT (unless stated)