Monday, January 18, 2010

Lion debutants impressed against Thailand despite loss

Nine Lions made their international debut yesterday in the opening King’s Cup match against nemesis Thailand.

Jeremy Chiang, Shahril Alias, Safuwan Baharudin, Irwan Shah and Shukor Zailan had their full international debuts, while Fadhil Noh, Syaqir Sulaiman, Eddie Chang and Khairul Nizam came on as substitutes. Of these, five were from the bronze medal-winning SEA Games squad.

Despite the lacked of experience at the highest level, the Lions’ debutants more than held their own to keep it level at 0-0 into half-time.In the second half, a controversial decision by the referee changed the game for Singapore as he awarded a free-kick in favour of the Thais at a dangerous position, for an innocuous challenge by Singapore defender Safuwan Baharudin.

Sutee Suksomkit gave Hassan no chance as he curls it to the far-right post to make it 1-0 to Thailand in the 60th minute.

Jolted by the goal, the Lions surged forward in search of the equaliser. A good break by Singapore down the left saw Khairul Nizam charge into the box, only to see his centre gathered gratefully by the Thai keeper.

Yet another shocking decision was made by the referee at the 81st minute as he pointed to the penalty spot despite Safuwan having won the ball cleanly from his opponent. Sutee steps up again to do the honours but Hassan Sunny pulled off a great block and saved the subsequent Therdsak rebound to deny the Thais the double satisfaction.

Singapore’s closest chance came in the 89th minute from an indirect free-kick in the box, but Shi Jiayi’s efforts were cleared on the line.

Despite going down 1-0 at the final whistle, National Coach Radojko Avramovic was full of praise for his charges’ performance.

“I’m very happy with the team’s performance tonight. Many of these boys have never played for the national team before and they have done well, even above my expectations.”

“Although we did not score, we created enough chances. Considering that the team is made up of many new players, many of whom had only one training together before the match, it was a very good start.”

On whether he felt the Lions were hard-done by certain refereeing decisions, the 60-year-old Serb replied, “It is all part and parcel of the game. This is not the first time the referees have made bad decisions against us, but the players just have to be professional and go on to compete in the game.”

Singapore’s next match will be against Denmark, who beat Poland 3-1 in the earlier match.

40th King Cup
Thailand 1-0 Singapore

SINGAPORE – Hassan Sunny (GK), Jeremy Chiang (Fadhil Noh 77’), Safuwan Baharudin, Shahril Alias, Irwan Shah, Tengku Mushadad (Syaqir Sulaiman 65’), Shi Jiayi (Eddie Chang 91’), Shukor Zailan, Shahril Ishak, Aleksandar Duric (Khairul Nizam 76’), Khairul Amri (Fazrul Nawaz 6’)

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