Singapore's preparations for the defence of their AFF Suzuki Cup crown hit a bump yesterday when they lost 1-2 in Hong Kong.
The hosts took an early lead when Kitchee striker Xu Deshuai, who scored against S-League side Tampines Rovers in the AFC Cup earlier this season, put his team ahead in the seventh minute.
Midfielder Ju Yingzhi, who plays for Suns Pegasus in the domestic league, added a second goal in the 52nd minute at the Mong Kok Stadium.
The Lions managed a late consolation in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Shahril Ishak marked his comeback from injury with a goal from the penalty spot.
Said Singapore coach Bernd Stange: "We dominated the game and played an exciting brand of football but two mistakes from us made it hard for us to come back.
"But I'm very pleased that players like Shahril and Khairul Amri... made their comeback from injuries today, along with Shaiful Esah as well."
For this game, Stange went with a mix of youth and experience in his starting line-up, with centre-back Baihakki Khaizan (with 107 caps) skippering the side.
He partnered Safuwan Baharudin, who has played 36 times for Singapore at the heart of defence. Tampines midfielder Ismadi Mukhtar made his international debut.
The Courts Young Lions duo of right-back Muhammad Al Qaasimy and striker Sahil Suhaimi, who has nine goals in the S-League so far, also notched up their third and sixth cap respectively.
The Lions next face Macau at the Macau Olympic Complex on Tuesday.
"We have six weeks now to prepare for the Suzuki Cup," said Stange.
"We have another match in Macau and we have to get a win to get confidence going in the team."
This article was first published on Oct 11, 2014.
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