Sundram's Lions offer no threat in loss to Vietnam
Superior Vietnamese eventually break down Sundram's resolute defence
REPORTING FROM YANGON
AYA BANK CUP FINAL
(Le Cong Vinh 91, Nguyen Van Quyet 99, Dinh Thanh Trung 114)
* After extra time
It was a better performance against superior opponents, but the Lions just could not follow up their 1-0 victory over Myanmar on Friday with another win, going down 3-0 to Vietnam in the AYA Bank Cup final after extra time here last night.
Their much-vaunted organisation and discipline helped them eke out a 0-0 draw at the end of regulation time at the Thuwunna YTC Stadium in front of 6,802 fans, which included a sizeable Vietnamese contingent.
The stalemate against a side ranked world No. 133, 16 rungs above the Lions, will count for precious Fifa ranking points, but the Vietnamese simply stepped up a few gears in extra time to romp to victory.
It took just 25 seconds of extra time for their deadly poacher Le Cong Vinh to seize on to Nguyen Van Quyet's lovely through-ball and smash it over Hassan Sunny and give Vietnam a deserved lead.
Singapore coach V Sundramoorthy was naturally crestfallen.
The 50-year-old told The New Paper: "We held them off well and then at the restart, we went to sleep and we were punished.
"Mentally, we must be always ready. We need to work on that a lot more in training, maybe with a psychologist, too."
Winger Gabriel Quak added: "Vietnam showed their superior fitness in extra time, we lost concentration and got sucker-punched.
"A 3-0 defeat was cruel after we held firm in the 90 minutes, but we will learn from this and come back stronger."
Sundram's decision to move Hariss Harun from defence back to central midfield was vindicated in regulation play as the skipper, Izzdin Shafiq and Azhar Sairudin policed the engine room well.
Singapore edged the opening minutes and Baihakki Khaizan powered a header just over after a short corner routine in the seventh minute.
While Vietnam dominated, they never genuinely threatened Hassan and just before the break, Quak fired over after a training-ground free-kick routine which saw Azhar Sairudin cut the ball back instead of crossing.
Hassan made his first good save in the 70th minute when he got down quick to deny Van Quyet after the No. 10 had wriggled free.
Seconds later, Baihakki came to the rescue to smash Cong Vinh's goal-bound lob against the woodwork and clear.
Safuwan Baharudin had a chance to win the match in the 74th minute, but his header off Madhu Mohana's long throw was cleared off the line by a defender.
Starting as a No. 9, Safuwan won numerous headers and free-kicks, but he clearly lacked support.
Enter extra time, and the introduction of livewire winger Dinh Thanh Trung for Pham Thanh Luong.
After Le's strike, Dinh linked up well with Van Quyet for the latter to add another in the 99th minute.
Thanh Trung got on the scoresheet five minutes later after tearing down the wing before finishing well past Hassan.
It was the kind of creativity from open play and the classy finishing that the Lions sorely lacked.
With Singapore losing 18 of their last 20 games when they fell behind, it also begs the question of what they can do when the chips are down.
But Sundramoorthy was not overly concerned.
"We have players like Khairul Amri, Faris Ramli, Fazrul Nawaz, Sahil Suhaimi, Shahril Ishak, Azhar, Gabriel and Safuwan who can create and score.
"We have options, we just need time to work on them and improve in time for the Suzuki Cup in November."
- Shots: Singapore 4 on target, 5 off target; Vietnam 7 on target, 9 off target
- Corners: Singapore 4, Vietnam 9
- Yellow cards: Singapore 4 (Hariss, Nazrul, Safuwan, Amri), Vietnam 0
- Offsides: Singapore 1, Vietnam 5
- Attendance: 6,802
- Referee: Khin Maung Win (Myanmar)
- TNP Man of the Match: Nguyen Van Quyet (Vietnam)
- SINGAPORE (players' ratings): Hassan Sunny 7, Nazrul Ahmad Nazari 6, Baihakki Khaizan 6.5 (Afiq Yunos 102), Madhu Mohana 6.5, Hafiz Abu Sujad 6, Gabriel Quak 6 (Shahril Ishak 73), Izzdin Shafiq 6, Hariss Harun 7, Azhar Sairudin 6 (Khairul Amri 59) 5.5, Faris Ramli 6, Safuwan Baharudin 6.5
- VIETNAM: Tran Nguyen Manh, Tran Dinh Hoang, Vu Ngoc Thinh, Que Ngoc Hai, Tran Dinh Dong, Luong Xuan Truong (Nguyen Huy Hung 85), Nguyen Tuan Anh, Nguyen Van Toan, Nguyen Van Quyet, Pham Thanh Luong (Dinh Thanh Trung 91), Le Cong Vinh (Le Hoang Thien 106).