Singapore Under-23s halt worrying form with win over India
Coach Tardy pleased with team's performance ahead of AFC U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers
|INDIA U-23 0|
|(Ikhsan Fandi 51-pen)|
The Singapore Under-23 team will go into next week's AFC Under-23 Asian Cup qualifiers in a more positive mood, after defeating India 1-0 in a friendly at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium last night.
The result came thanks to a much-improved display from Richard Tardy's charges, who put in a sub-par display against the same opponents at the same venue three days earlier, losing 1-0.
A penalty by Ikhsan Fandi six minutes into the second half proved enough to separate the two sides.
Tardy, who will also lead the team at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur next month, said he was pleased with the win, but refused to get carried away.
"This win is very important for the players' confidence, but it does not change too much in my mind," said the Frenchman.
"Our players are young, they still need experience and power, but have the quality to compete.
"Today, I am very happy to see how much energy they (put in) to score, and then to try and keep the result."
Tardy, however, admitted the team's Jekyll-and-Hyde performances were a concern, and that he was keen to get them to perform on a more consistent basis.
The coach rang the changes in a bid to cajole a better performance from his charges, with seven changes made to the starting 11 who played on Sunday.
He got the desired response.
After just nine minutes, winger Haiqal Pashia was sent through on goal from a beautiful pass by midfield schemer Hami Syahin.
Pashia had two bites of the cherry, but saw his first shot saved by India goalkeeper Vishal Kalth, and his second cleared off the line by a defender.
The 18-year-old Pashia then linked well with Ikhsan in the 21st minute, but the striker's shot was saved by Kalth.
The home side looked a lot more vibrant than they did on Sunday, thanks to a combination of robust tackles by the likes of stand-in captain Ilyas Lee in midfield, the pace of Pashia on the flanks, and the guile of Hami and Hanafi Akbar.
Ikhsan, who is serving National Service and arrived at the stadium last night straight from camp, broke the deadlock in the 51st minute from the penalty spot, after left back Syahrul Sazali was felled in the area.
Ilyas then saw an acrobatic effort flash just wide of goal, before Hanafi saw a fierce shot well gathered by Kalth.
The team's confidence was typified by central midfielder Hami, who saw Kalth off his line and went for goal from near the halfway line, but his audacious effort landed just a metre wide of goal.
Singapore were let off the hook in the 83rd minute, however, when substitute Alen Deory had a free header from barely five metres out, but sent his effort wide.
Post-match, Hami said he and his teammates were out to make up for Sunday's poor performance.
"After the first game, we were disappointed because we knew we could match India," said the 18-year-old.
"Everyone got together, our captain Shahrin (Saberin) and Adam (Swandi) told us we could and should win this second game, to prove something to our fans.
"To be honest, we've put in this kind of performance in a lot of matches when we played in tournaments overseas, and I believe this result will boost our morale for the AFC U-23 qualifiers and SEA Games, and I hope we can keep winning."
Singapore will travel to Myanmar to play the Group F hosts next Wednesday, Australia on July 21, and then Brunei on July 23.
The group winners, and the top six second-placed teams, will qualify for the AFC U-23 Asian Cup in China next year.