Lions beaten by sucker punch
Defensive trio Hassan, Madhu and Bennett caught out by pint-sized Masuk
(Sarawut Masuk 89)
For 89 minutes, they hardly gave their opponents a sniff of goal.
But one cross and one header undid all the good work of Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny and centre backs Madhu Mohana and Daniel Bennett, in their AFF Suzuki Cup Group A clash against Thailand at the Philippine Sports Stadium last night.
With time ticking down, Bennett rushed towards the edge of the box to try and prevent Thai leftback Teerathon Bunmathan from delivering a ball into the box, but failed.
The ball looped over the head of 1.83m tall Madhu, and out charged 1.85m tall Hassan to try and smother the danger.
BEATEN: Goalkeeper Hassan Sunny finally concedes after 674 minutes as Thailand's Sarawut Masuk (No. 14) heads into goal. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES
Instead, it was Sarawut Masuk, who stands at just 1.7m, who somehow managed to sneak in and flick home a header for what proved to be the winner.
Hassan, who had gone 674 minutes without conceding a goal from open play in a Singapore shirt until last night, was crestfallen.
"It was not easy for us tonight," said the shot-stopper, who plies his trade in Thailand with Army United.
"We defended quite deep and they had lot of time on the ball, but weren't really that dangerous.
"For the goal, there was a lack of marking in the box, and I saw two or three Thai players free, so I had to come out.
"What can we say... This is football, sometimes you don't get what you want."
Madhu was equally disconsolate.
"We did well for 89 minutes and were compact, and Thailand didn't know what to do," said the 25-year-old.
"But because of the break (a counter attack just before the goal), we lost our shape at the end.
"It's unfortunate for us, but I think as a team we did well and coach is happy with our performance.
"If we keep staying compact as a team, I think we can go progress (in the competition)."
Bennett lamented the goal, but said the Lions' overall performance was a bright spot, as they target a win over Indonesia in their final group game on Friday.
"I was dragged out of position, because at the end we thought we could score the winner," said Bennett, of the goal.
"It was their plan to drag me and Madhu out all game, and (until the goal) they couldn't.
"Maybe it was adrenaline, maybe we exposed ourselves a little bit there.
"You can always look at a goal, but you can also look at all the things we did right in the game.
"It's a good performance and it's something we can take and move forward into the last game with a lot of confidence."