Young Lions tamed by Myanmar
Singapore off to losing start, coach Tardy worried about fatigue in crucial clash with Malaysia tomorrow
|(Aung Thu 45+1, 61)|
They were beaten 2-0 by Myanmar in the Asian Football Confederations (AFC) U-23 qualifiers last month.
Yesterday, the national Under-22 football team fell by the same scoreline to the same opponents in their SEA Games Group A opener at the Selayang Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
It was a tale of two halves for Richard Tardy's team, who probably showed their opponents a bit too much respect.
"As the coach, I'm not happy with the result, but I'm also a little proud of these young players," said Tardy.
"We didn't play the first half very well. We were a little afraid of the opponents especially because they had beaten us (in the AFC U-23 qualifier).
"In the second half, we showed a good picture of Singapore football. Unfortunately, we made a mistake for the second goal... which I can also say for the first goal.
"I think the first half belonged to Myanmar but, in the second half, we played much better. Unfortunately, we couldn't score."
With last month's loss at the back of his mind, Tardy decided to make some changes for yesterday's match.
Captain Shahrin Saberin was dropped, with Amirul Adli taking his place in the heart of defence. The armband went to Irfan Fandi, who turned 20 on Sunday.
Right back Rusyaidi Salime was restored to the line-up after losing his place in recent months to Darren Teh, who was cut from the final SEA Games squad.
Midfielder Joshua Pereira also earned a starting berth after a long spell on the sidelines.
The changes, however, proved ineffectual.
Just like the AFC qualifier last month, Myanmar started the stronger of the two sides.
Singapore goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad had to be alert to make two good saves to deny Maung Maung Lwin and Aung Thu in the opening 25 minutes.
Just when it looked like the Young Lions had done enough to head into half-time on level terms, Myanmar took the lead through Aung, who slotted home from close range after Hlaing Bo Bo's shot took a fortuitous deflection into his path.
Tardy's half-time team talk roused his charges, as they peppered shots at Myanmar goalkeeper Sann Sat Naing in the second half.
Striker Ikhsan Fandi had three chances in the first 10 minutes of the restart but could not find the net.
Instead, it was Myanmar who doubled their lead in the 61st minute, when Aung stole in at the near post to score.
Singapore came close to scoring late on through substitute Amiruldin Asraf and Irfan's header at a corner, but ultimately paid the price for their inability to finish off their chances.
Tardy is now sweating over his players' condition ahead of tomorrow's crucial Group A tie against Malaysia, who beat Brunei 2-1 in a later game.
The Young Lions will need a favourable result against the hosts to keep their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals alive.
Only the top two teams from the two groups advance to the semi-finals.
When asked in the post-match press conference if he had studied Malaysia, Tardy said: "Sure... but we must recover well.
"Because today, we played not an easy game, (and used up) too much energy.
"I remember in Yangon (the AFC U-23 qualifiers), after our first game against Myanmar, we disappeared totally in the second game.
"We don't have the possibility of putting out two different teams in two different games.
"And I don't think Malaysia would have put in the same effort against Brunei as we did for Myanmar today."