China drubbing a painful lesson, says Hassan

If not for his saves, China could well have racked up a score against Singapore last Friday that surpassed the Lions' record 8-0 drubbing in 1969 by Burma.

But that is scant consolation for Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny, who still remembers each of the goals that flew past him in that 6-1 defeat in Tianjin.

"It was like we were swarmed by honey bees, they were all over us," said the 29-year-old, who will start against Hong Kong tomorrow if Izwan Mahbud fails to recover from a groin injury.

"I'm not going to lie. It hurts and I felt really down. No team like to lose by such a big margin, no goalkeeper likes to let in goals, definitely not six.

"But I'm not a young and inexperienced international. I have learnt to handle such situations and I'm not going to look back. It's about mental strength now and I'm looking forward to a better performance against Hong Kong if I'm selected."

But it will not be easy. Online critics have pointed out that Hassan kept goal for some of Singapore's heaviest defeats - 7-0 against Oman in 2004 and 7-1 against Iraq last year - before Friday's demolition.

Some, however, defended Hassan, pointing out that he was unfortunate to have faced far superior teams bang on form and that he wasn't well-protected by his defenders.

The Warriors FC goalkeeper, however, refused to blame his defenders, who were often dragged out of position by China's simple but quick passing and off-the-ball movement.

He said: "When I tell my defenders to look out for danger from the left, China would quickly switch play to the right. It was all very fast. "But it is a good lesson for us. We watched the highlights and they were playing the kind of football we are aspiring to play.

"We don't want to get whacked. We must learn from our mistakes and apply what we learn in future matches."

Get The New Paper for more stories.