International friendly: Some progress, at least

International friendly: Some progress, at least
International football friendly match between Singapore and Laos at Yishun Stadium on 13 Nov 2014.

It was a much-awaited second victory and morale-boosting second clean sheet in eight games this year for the Lions.

But no one was getting carried away last night after the 2-0 international friendly win over regional minnows Laos in front of 500 fans on a sodden Yishun Stadium pitch.

Speaking after the game, Singapore coach Bernd Stange said simply: "I don't overestimate this result. Better teams are coming."

There were definitely positives, though, as the Lions continued preparations to defend their ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup, which Singapore co-host with Vietnam this year.

The Lions burst out of the blocks and were keen to make an impression against a defensive-minded Laos. They won two corners in the first five minutes and Shaiful Esah's inswinger was glanced in by Baihakki Khaizan at the near post in the fifth minute.

Suzuki Cup "goal king" Khairul Amri - he has scored in three Finals - then sealed the win in the 32nd minute when he headed in a superb Faris Ramli cross from the right wing.

"I'm pleased with the performance in the first half, when we played high-speed, combination football," said Stange.

"When the opponents play with nine defenders and one striker, we have to keep the ball wide and make use of the wings."

While the Lions managed to maintain their high-pressing game to force numerous turnovers by the weaker opponents, they just couldn't penetrate the Laos defence in the second half.

Stange, 66, cited the muddy conditions and said: "We did not have enough petrol in the second half... We slowed down, kept the ball and possession.

"The clean sheet is very important for us to take confidence in how we defend."

The Lions, record four-time winners of the ASEAN title, have been drawn in Group B along with favourites Thailand, Malaysia and a Myanmar team led by former Singapore coaching hero, Radojko Avramovic.

German Stange fielded what looked like his strongest 11 at the start last night.

But he would only say he was "closer" to deciding his line-up for the Group B opener against Thailand at the Singapore Sports Hub's National Stadium on Nov 23, as well as his final 22-man squad.

Skipper Shahril Ishak enjoyed an encouraging return to first-team action for the first time in three months after a hamstring injury.

The 30-year-old said: "With just 10 days to go, we are happy to get back to winning ways.

"It's a good psychological boost after some unfavourable results but we also know that tougher challenges are ahead of us and we will continue to work hard to defend our title."

The Lions will play Cambodia in their final build-up friendly on Monday (8pm) at Yishun Stadium.

LINE-UPS

SINGAPORE: Hassan Sunny, Ismadi Mukhtar (Al-Qaasimy Abdul Rahman 55), Baihakki Khaizan (Amirul Adli 88), Safuwan Baharudin, Shaiful Esah, Hariss Harun, Shahdan Sulaiman (Zulfahmi Arifin 83), Faris Ramli, Shahril Ishak (Shahfiq Ghani 76), Khairul Amri (Fazrul Nawaz 79), Sahil Suhaimi (Khairul Nizam 55).

LAOS: Soukthavy Soundala, Saynakhonevieng Phommapanya, Ketsada Souksavanh, Saison Khounsamnan, Phoutdavy Phommasane (Keoviengphet Litthideth 46), Khonesavanh Sihavong, Soukaphone Vongchiengkham (Phoutthasay Khochalern 77), Vilayout Sayyabounsou (Phatthana Syvilay 77), Sengdao Inthilath (Bounthavy Sipasong 63), Tiny Bounmalay (Paseuthsack Souliyavong 46), Khampheng Sayavutthi.

MATCH STATS

Shots: Singapore 6 on target, 7 off target; Laos 1 on target, 3 off target

Corners: Singapore 7, Laos 0

Yellow cards: Singapore 2, (Ismadi, Shahfiq), Laos 2

Offsides: Singapore 1, Laos 2

Attendance: 500

Referee: Farhad Mohd

TNP Man of the Match: Hariss Harun


This article was first published on Nov 14, 2014.
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