Singapore U15 3 Cambodia U15 1: Cubs pull off spirited comeback win

The Singapore under-15 team came from behind to clinch a 3-1 win over their Cambodian counterparts in the final match of the AFC U-16 Championship Group H qualifiers on Sunday night.

Sieng Chanthea gave the Cambodians a shock lead early in the second half, but three goals in 19 minutes saw the hosts turn things around in front of 1,227 fans at Jalan Besar Stadium.

Glenn Kweh, Khairul Hairie Abdul Hamid and Irfan Jeferee grabbed a goal apiece as Singapore claimed the three points that help them finish third in Group H, behind North Korea and Thailand.

The first chance of the night fell to Cambodia after just five minutes, with defender Yue Safy volleying just wide from an outswinging corner.

However it was Singapore who dominated the rest of the first half, albeit without finishing off their chances.

Kweh fired over from close range in the 7th minutes, before Khairul Hairie’s freekick 11 minutes later was smothered by Cambodia goalkeeper Kong Raphath.

Joel Chew then skipped past his marker two minutes after the half-hour mark, but his shot from a tight angle was well held by Kong.

The visitors nearly scored against the run of play shortly after as San Kimheng’s 30-yarder looked destined for the top left corner, but they did not count for goalkeeper Kevin Wong’s acrobatic intervention.

Singapore ended the half strongly with Khairul Hairie on the end of three excellent opportunities, but the left winger was unable to beat the in-form Kong.

Those missed chances would come back to haunt V. Selvaraj’s boys as Cambodia broke the deadlock two minutes after the restart.

Teat Kimheng’s quick free kick over the top caught the Singapore defence off-guard as Sieng coolly finished low past an onrushing Wong with his first touch.

Credit has to go to the Cubs who managed to rally and level matters in the 69th minute.

The ever-dangerous Khairul Hairie rounded Kong on the left byline, before squaring across the six-yard box for Kweh to thump home despite the attentions of a Cambodia defender on the line.

Buoyed with confidence after the goal, Singa[pre piled on the pressure and scored again on the 81st minute.

Afiq Azrhy Ehwan’s ball from the right was dummied by Kweh into the path of Khairul Hairie, whose snap-shot from the edge of the box was spilled into goal by the otherwise excellent Kong.

The Singaporeans completed their comeback two minutes from time via a superb individual goal from Irfan.

The midfield hard man raced half the length of the pitch after intercepting Rort Bunnou’s pass, then saw his attempted cross fumbled into goal once again by Kong.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Selvaraj was delighted with the way his charges managed to rally for the win.

“I’m really pleased with how they did tonight,” the former national defender said.

“In the first half, we lacked the killer instinct in front of goal and lost concentration in situations – that is the two biggest areas for us to work on.

“Then in the second half, we gave away an easy goal due to miscommunication at the back. Usually the boys will be down after conceding, but today they did not give up.

“They were determined to fight for everything and we got the equaliser. That goal pushed them to be mentally stronger and of course we needed some luck to score the final two goals.

“The win was good, but we should not forget some lessons which we learnt over the qualifiers. They will turn 16 next year and we will have to get them prepared for bigger tournaments in the future.”

Photo: Football Association of Singapore