SEA Games: Young Lions on the brink after 5-0 thumping by Thailand
The Republic's Under-23 football team's medal hopes at the Hanoi SEA Games are hanging by a thread after a 5-0 loss to Thailand at the Thien Truong Stadium in Nam Dinh on Monday (May 9) night.
Nazri Nasir's charges must now beat Malaysia and Cambodia in their remaining games and hope other results go their way, in order to claim one of the top two spots in Group B and progress to the semi-finals.
If they fail, this would mark the fourth straight SEA Games where Singapore were knocked out in the group stage.
Thailand scored their opening goal at the end of a cagey first half which saw few clear opportunities for either team, and it was ex-Singapore youth international Ben Davis who made the impact for them.
The 21-year-old attacking midfielder earned a penalty just seconds before half-time, after he was brought down in the box by Syahrul Sazali. He dusted himself off to send goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam the wrong way.
Davis, born in Phuket to a Thai mother and an English father, had moved to Singapore with his family at age five before becoming a citizen four years later. He represented the Republic up to the Under-19 level and was even called up to the senior Lions squad once but did not earn a cap.
But he switched his international football allegiance to his country of birth, after defaulting on his national service obligations in 2019, following his signing for English club Fulham. He is now with English third-tier club Oxford United.
After Davis' goal put the Thais in the driver's seat, a shambolic start to the second half put paid to Singapore's hopes of a comeback.
They conceded twice within six minutes of the restart, first after Haryhs Stewart turned the ball into his own net off Worachit Kanitsribampen's low cross in the 47th minute, before Ekanit Panya slammed the ball in from close range after a melee in the 51st.
Ekanit, one of five players in the Thai starting XI with senior caps - Singapore had three - grabbed his second in the 67th minute with a cool finish off a counter-attack.
Korawich Tasa scored the Thais' fifth nine minutes before the end with another close-range finish, with the Republic hardly ever threatening Thai goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan throughout the game.
The result left Singapore at the bottom of Group B after two games.
They had opened their campaign with a 2-2 draw with Laos last Saturday, having trailed 2-0 for most of the game.
Nazri's team now face an uphill battle in their next two matches.
Malaysia beat Thailand 2-1 in their opening game, while Cambodia thumped Laos 4-1 in the other Group B match played earlier on Monday.