Lions suffer first defeat to Cambodia in 44 years
Republic suffer first loss to Cambodia in 44 years
(Chan Vathanaka 18, Tith Dina 45+2)
(Khairul Amri 23)
Singapore went down to their second-ever defeat to Cambodia in 17 meetings last night, when they lost 2-1 in an international friendly played at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.
The only other time Singapore suffered a reverse to Cambodia was 44 years ago, when they were beaten 3-0 in the Jakarta Anniversary football tournament in 1972.
Singapore were missing five key overseas-based players - Shahril Ishak, Safuwan Baharudin, Hariss Harun, Baihakki Khaizan and Hassan Sunny - as well as injured winger Faris Ramli, but were still expected to beat their opponents, who are ranked 180th in the world, 22 places below them.
Striker and skipper, Khairul Amri, who scored the Lions goal, was at a loss to explain the defeat.
"It's just their day," said the 31-year-old, over the phone.
"Every ball seemed to fall for them and we hit the post so many times.
"Also, the referee had a part to play with their second goal."
When asked what the mood was like in the dressing room, Amri said: "Bad, man. It has all gone quiet."
Last night's kick-off was delayed for half an hour because of a downpour. Cambodia opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Chan Vathanaka curled home a superb free-kick beyond goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud.
The hosts' lead lasted only five minutes, before Amri levelled the score with a looping header after he got on the end of Izzdin Shafiq's raking long pass.
The match officials then raised the ire of the Singapore players just before half-time, when Vathanaka was allowed to burst forward from the left flank from what seemed to be an offside position, before crossing for Tith Dina to finish from close range.
As the two teams returned to the dressing room at the break, an irate Lions coach V Sundramoorthy was seen venting his frustration at the match officials and had to be held back by assistant coach Fandi Ahmad.
Sundram's side came close to another equaliser early in the second half when Fazrul Nawaz, and then Zulfahmi Arifin, saw efforts come off the woodwork.
Cambodia were forced to play the final 15 minutes with 10 men when defender Hong Pheng was sent off after picking up a second yellow card, but the Lions failed to capitalise.
The closest the visitors came to an equaliser was in the 89th minute when Fazrul's stabbed effort during a goalmouth melee again came off the upright.
Amri said there was nothing he and his teammates could do but pick themselves up and look forward.
"What next? We have to regroup," he said. "Everyone knows we don't have a full team here... But now, it's up to coach to find the best 11 for the team and the best solution for us from here. We're in good hands, but this is football."
Sundram took over the national team last month and got off to a winning start, beating Myanmar 1-0 in a quadrangular tournament in Yangon.
But the Lions lost the second game of that tournament 3-0 to Vietnam in extra time and last night's result means he now has a record of one win and two losses in three 'A' international matches.
- SINGAPORE: Izwan Mahbud, Faritz Hameed, Madhu Mohana, Abdil Qaiyyim, Shakir Hamzah (Safirul Sulaiman 86), Nazrul Nazari (Gabriel Quak 59), Izzdin Shafiq (Daniel Bennett 96), Zulfahmi Arifin (Khairul Nizam 82), Hafiz Abu Sujad (Hafiz Nor 69), Fazrul Nawaz, Khairul Amri (Sahil Suhaimi 74)
Football is like that. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I thought Cambodia showed fighting spirit and did very well. But we have to look at ourselves as well, the chances that we had... We should have finished them.
— Singapore assistant coach Fandi