Other teams stronger, says Cambodia Coach

Singapore Under-23 (Young Lions) striker Shahfiq Ghani (N0. 26) celebrating with teammates after scoring a goal against Cambodia Under-23 during a friendly match held at Hougang Stadium.

SINGAPORE 1 (Shahfiq Ghani 76)

CAMBODIA 0

Not as fit, not as physical, and not as sharp.

While Cambodia coach Lee Tae Hoon praised Singapore as a "balanced team", the Korean didn't mince his words as he listed Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar as teams that are ahead of the Young Lions in the aforementioned aspects.

And, indeed, ahead in their prospects of making it to the SEA Games final.

Despite seeing his side lose 1-0 to Singapore at Hougang Stadium last night, Lee said: "Singapore showed good control to pass and move.

"But, in the second half, their physical levels went down.

"Teams like Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar are strong in these areas."

Lee would be in a good position to make a comparison after seeing Under-23 teams from Malaysia and Myanmar play in the recent BIDC Cup which Thailand won earlier this month in Phnom Penh.

U-23 PLAYERS

While last night's match was an A international, both teams opted to deploy under-23 players to prepare for next month's SEA Games.

Other than hamstrung winger Gabriel Quak, Singapore Under-23s coach Aide Iskandar fielded what should be his first 11 against Cambodia.

However it was clear from the pace that both sets of players were keen to avoid injury before the Myanmar Games.

Singapore's defence was generally watertight but, once again, poor finishing frustrated Aide.

Centre back Afiq Yunos did, however, head Zulfahmi Arifin's free-kick against the post in the 63rd minute, before Shafiq Ghani nodded in a 76th-minute winner after a pinball series of headers.

Addressing the lack of sharpness, Aide said: "Players such as Hariss (Harun), Madhu (Mohana) and Afiq (Yunos) have not played much after the Malaysian Super League due to suspension and National Service, while other countries have played in friendly tournaments.

"I'm pleased with the chances we created and Sahil (Suhaimi) and Shahfiq created lots of problems, but yes, we need to convert them.

"But not to worry, we will continue to work hard. We are confident we have the quality. It's a matter of timing as well because it's important not to peak too early."

The Young Lions' next friendly is against the Philippines on Sunday.


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