Thai U-15s too strong for Singapore
Coach Selvaraj admits to gulf in class between sides
(Korawich Tasa 18, 59, 73, Jinnawat Russamee 28, 45)
Few gave the hosts much of a chance ahead of the Singapore Under-15s' clash with their Thai counterparts in their opening Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-16 Championship Group H qualifier at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night.
Singapore national youth teams head coach Richard Tardy had said earlier that the country's age-group teams were not yet good enough to match such opposition, and so it proved, as the Thais, newly-crowned Asean Under-16s champions, took V Selvaraj's side apart in a 5-0 rout.
After the match, Singapore U-15 coach Selvaraj admitted that the Thais were well ahead in terms of technique and fitness.
"We did not have the killer instinct in front of goal, which the Thais had," he said.
Add to that power and precision, as the Thais went about their business in slick fashion last night.
Left winger Korawich Tasa grabbed a superb hat-trick - a thumping shot from outside the box in the 18th minute, a solo effort in the 59th minute, and a well-worked goal after toying with the Singapore defence with teammate Hassawat Nopnate in the 73rd minute.
Forward Jinnawat Russamee also netted a fine brace - stepping inside a defender to bend a 28th-minute shot into the bottom corner, before tapping in another just before half- time.
The Cubs did string some fine passing combinations up front through Joel Chew and Glenn Kwek, but too often, they reverted to aimless long balls when put under pressure.
The hosts, whose players have risen through the ranks of the National Football Academy, were also well short in the fitness stakes, limping and cramping up in the latter stages of the match as the Thais threatened to run riot.
Thailand U-15 coach Payong Khunnan said his team got together a month ago to prepare for the Asean Under-16 Championships and benefited from six-day training weeks, compared to the Singaporeans who train three times a week.
"We came with confidence after winning our last tournament, and we were physically stronger," he added.
Frenchman Tardy had already hit the nail on the head when he identified the local youngsters' weaknesses - physical fitness, technical ability and commitment.
And Selvaraj admitted the players would have to work a lot harder, especially in situations under pressure.
He thinks a possible solution would be to play more international friendlies, and said: "We don't have to go far. Thailand, Laos and Myanmar are good sparring opponents whose players make quick decisions and movements on the pitch.
"It will be good for our boys to have more of these matches and learn about what it takes at international level."
Meanwhile, in the opening Group H match played earlier yesterday, defending champions and favourites North Korea thumped Cambodia 7-0, with the goals coming from a Kung Jin Song treble, a Kim Chung Jin brace, and efforts from Kwon Nam Hyok and Kim Kyong Sok.
THAILAND: Wutthipong Thiangthae, Sumana Salapphet, Natthapong Nakpitak, Wudtichai Kumkeam (Pakornkiat Khaena 79), Thananat Rungrampan, Peerapat Kaminthong (Arnon Prasongporn 56), Patthadon Tiangwong (Kongkidagan Kingthong 63), Tharadon Sornyoha, Korawich Tasa, Jinnawat Russamee, Hassawat Nopnate
SINGAPORE: Kevin Wong, Zakri Kai Ren, Izzul Bin Tazhar, Syed Akmal, Jordan Vestering, Khairie Abdul Hamid (Firdaus Johan 76), Irfan Jeferee, Akmal Azman (Mahler Jacob William 74), Rezza Ramadhani (Fikri Junaidi 46), Joel Chew, Glenn Kweh