Singapore U22 0 China U22 5: Cubs crushed in decisive qualifier
Li Yuanyi opened the floodgates shortly after the first whistle, with Feng Gang, Xu Xin, Zang Yifeng and Wu Xinghan completing the scoring. Zang also missed a penalty in the final moments when he hit his spot-kick against the crossbar.
The result sees the Chinese virtually assured of a place in the Qatar finals next January, while Richard Bok’s youngsters will likely only have pride to play for when they wrap up their qualification run against Mongolia on Tuesday.
Despite making five changes to the team that held hosts Laos to a goal-less draw a couple of days ago, it did not take long for one of the replacements to show his nerves less than a minute into the game.
Poor positioning from Zharfan Rohaizad, who deputised for the injured Zulfairuuz Rudy in goal, allowed Li to slot home from inside the box to open the scoring for the Asian giants.
Fareez Farhan almost conjured up a response on 10 minutes, when his direct free kick from distance flashed just wide of the right post, while Zharfan redeemed himself after his early mistake with two smart saves in one-on-one situations.
China’s sustained pressure eventually led to a second goal six minutes before half time however, as a diagonal ball from Chang Feiya was deflected into the path of Feng who slammed home first time inside the box.
Anumanthan Mohan Kumar and Taufik Suparno squandered opportunities for Bok’s side to reduce the gap late in the first half, when they sent their feeble attempts straight into the gloves of China goalkeeper Zhang Yinuo.
Things went from bad to worse for Singapore in the second half when Irfan Fandi, who had been routinely bypassed by the Chinese forwards throughout the game, hacked down Chang inside his own box to concede a penalty before the hour mark.
Xu stepped up to send the Singapore custodian the wrong way, powering his spot kick into the top corner of the net to make it three for his team.
Second-half substitute Zang added the fourth in the 66th minute when Amirul Adli cleared the ball but only as far out to the midfielder lurking outside the box, who lashed a first-time effort home from 23 yards.
Another China replacement, Wu, scored the fifth goal 13 minutes later when Tao Yuan crossed the ball for him to tap the ball home into an empty net.
Zharfan conceded a second penalty of the evening after he brought down Zang inside the box two minutes from the end, but the latter saw his penalty attempt hit the crossbar and go over.
Singapore could have snatched a late consolation goal in injury time, but Nur Ridho summed up the Cubs’ shoddy outing at both ends of the pitch when he sent his effort over despite an empty goal gaping, after Taufik had drawn Zhang off his goal line following a Chinese defensive mistake.
Image credit: Bounmy Thongpaseuth/Football Association of Singapore