Thailand leave it late as Singapore face an early Suzuki Cup exit

Singapore’s hopes of qualifying for the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup semi-finals took a dent after Sarawut Masuk scored an 89th-minute winner to earn Thailand a slender 1-0 victory on Tuesday. 

It was a case of deja vu as Thailand also struck late at the 2014 edition of the tournament to condemn Singapore to a 2-1 defeat at the group stages.

The result means Thailand have booked their place in the next round after collecting six points, while Singapore are staring at elimination after collecting only one point, with a game against Indonesia remaining.

The Thais dominated possession early on but they were met by a stubborn Lions defence, with Singapore content to defend in numbers and soak up the pressure.

Hassan Sunny was still called into action though, as he stopped Siroch Chattong from putting away Chanathip Songkrasin’s through pass in the 10th minute before beating away Rungrat Phumichantuk’s 29th-minute drive.

Thailand’s best chance of the half came in the 40th minute when Teerasil Dangda managed to get ahead of Shakir Hamzah to meet Chanathip’s cross but he headed just wide.

A rare opportunity presented itself for Singapore before the break but Kawin Thamsatchanan managed to intercept Hariss Harun’s threaded pass before Faris Ramli could reach it.

Nothing much changed after the break, as Thailand continued to enjoy the bulk of the chances.

Tristan Do found Sarach Yooyen in the 61st minute at the far post but the latter scuffed his shot into the side-netting.

Hassan then had to push away Chanathip’s attempt four minutes later, after the forward was allowed time and space to pick out his spot from inside the box.

As legs tired, Singapore had chances to steal the lead but Khairul Amri failed to test Kawin with his tame shot in the 84th minute while Shakir Hamzah’s fierce effort was parried away by the Thailand goalkeeper two minutes later.

The Lions paid for those misses dearly, with Sarawut Masuk rising the highest to flick in Theerathon Bunmathan’s cross in the 89th minute.

Singapore will face Indonesia on Friday and will need a win as well as the result of the match between Philippines and Thailand to go their way to have any hope of progressing into the final four.