Suzuki Cup: 'This is just so cruel

Suzuki Cup: 'This is just so cruel
AFF Suzuki Cup 2014 match between Singapore and Malaysia at the National Stadium on 29 November 2014. Singapore players dejected after losing to Malaysia 3-1 and automatically booted out of the tournament.

The fourth official had just raised his electronic board to indicate four minutes to be added on at the end of regulation time.

Just 240 seconds separated them from a place in the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup semi-finals.

But, almost instantly, the Lions conceded the penalty that eventually led to their elimination.

Substitute Hafiz Abu Sujad (below) said: "I am not so sure (what happened). The ball came into the box, we challenged for it. It was 50-50.

"I thought it was a goal-kick, the Malaysia players thought it was a goal-kick too, because they weren't appealing for one.

"It happened so fast. It was just so cruel."

In the first minute of added time, Singapore's Shakir Hamzah, substitute Hafiz and Malaysia's Amri Yahyah rose at the edge of the six-yard box to challenge for a cross floated in from the Lions' right flank.

The Malaysian went down after a slight nudge from behind by Hafiz, and the referee - Al Kaf Ahmed Abu Bakar Said of Oman - awarded the spot-kick against the Lions.

Several Singapore players, such as Gabriel Quak and Ismadi Mukhtar, confronted the referee about his decision.

"They didn't say anything, they just kept quiet," said Hafiz, when asked what the match officials' explanation was regarding the decision to award a penalty.

Captain Shahril Ishak added: "We surprised the Malaysians with our equaliser and controlled the game after that, but the referee blew for a penalty.

"Nothing happened. Even the Malaysian players thought it was a goal-kick. Everyone could see the incident, but we - as players - couldn't argue with the decision."

NO MISTAKE

Safiq Rahim made no mistake from the spot to put the Tigers 2-1 up.

Indra Putra Mahayuddin put the final nail in the Lions' coffin four minutes into added time, breaking away on a counter-attack and stroking the ball into an open goal, after Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny went up to the opposing penalty box in search for an equaliser.

Hariss Harun said: "We had it in us to hold on but, because of certain circumstances, things happened. It was great to have an almost-full stadium tonight, and I really want to thank the fans for coming.

"We are disappointed that we couldn't give them something to cheer about tonight, but I am sure we will move on from this."

Hafiz added: "Football can be a cruel game sometimes, but we gave our best and we just have to move on."

sayheng@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Nov 30, 2014.
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