Singapore vs Malaysia: Rivals out to assert Suzuki Cup title credentials
A chance for either side to put their recent troubles behind them
- 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)
- 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 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.
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.
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, up to five uncapped players could make their international debuts, and it remains to be seen if the trio of Johor Darul Ta’zim II players who were not given early release in preparation for this match will see any part of the game.
Key Battle: Hariss Harun vs Baddrol Bakhtiar
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)
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.
Facts and Figures
- Since 2005, the Lions have twice in 16 meetings.
- Khairul Amri, the Lions topscorer in the current squad, has found the back of the net against Malaysia on three different occasions
- Only three Malaysians from the squad that defeat Singapore 3-1 in 2014 remain in the current national team setup.
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.