Singapore U-15 lose on penalties to BG Pathum in Lion City Cup final
Staging a late comeback after conceding an early goal, the Singapore Under-15 team took the Lion City Cup final to penalties on Sunday.
The momentum seemed to be on their side, but it was not enough as the National Development Centre outfit lost 4-3 on spot-kicks to Thailand’s BG Pathum in front of 2,426 fans at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Nine minutes from time, a corner from the Republic’s Nathan Mao was parried into the net by Pathum goalkeeper Kittiphob Poomee, making it 1-1 and sending the Singapore fans into a frenzy. But Rae Peh and Helmi Shahrol’s saved efforts during the shoot-out proved costly as the Thai side lifted the trophy.
Singapore U-15 coach Angel Toledano said everybody’s disappointed but he was “very proud of the boys”.
“We had an unfortunate goal in the first seconds of the game, and they kept fighting and fighting and having possession,” said the Spaniard. “And penalties, it is what it is. The boys are 15 years old, they will learn from this experience and I think we are the better team, we played better football.”
Nathan felt that they need to instil a “winning mentality”.
The 15-year-old said: “We worked hard. It was a really hard situation because they’re physically strong and they sit back deep well. But we forced the goal, forced the comeback but we couldn’t complete it. I
“I think the lesson is, playing good football doesn’t necessarily mean winning games. So we need to etch into our systems to have that winning mentality. Because at the end of the day, that’s what wins games and that’s football.”
The Singapore U-15s fielded an unchanged line-up from Friday’s 3-1 win over Selangor FC, but they still got off to a nervy start and went behind after only 23 seconds.
A back pass from Ahmad Ilhan Rizqullah caught goalkeeper Jarec Ng out as the ball trickled over the line, handing the Thais an early lead.
The Cubs had a great chance to equalise in the 23rd minute, when Pathum custodian Kittiphob was adjudged to have held the ball for too long, prompting the referee to award the Cubs an indirect freekick in the box.
Nathan sent a curling freekick that seemed headed for the top corner until it was acrobatically saved by Kittiphob.
The Singapore U-15s had another chance to equalise 20 minutes later, when midfielder Harith Danish Irwan found Uchenna Eziakor in space on the left with an outside-foot pass, but the winger fired his shot well over the top.
The Cubs started the second half brightly when Andy Reefqy found Nathan on the right, but the forward’s shot went just wide of the post.
In the 81st minute, the Cubs finally found the equaliser when Nathan curled a dangerous corner towards goal, which Kittiphob could only parry into his own net.
The Lion City Sailors forward came close to a winner just three minutes later, but his freekick bounced off the bar.
A shoot-out ensued, with the Singapore U-15s converting their first three spot-kicks and the Thais missing their third. But two subsequent misses from the Cubs handed the Thais the trophy.
Pathum coach Tanongsak Prajakkata, who said the Lion City Cup was a “great tournament” for his side to take part in, felt that “everything good is happening” for the Singapore team, adding: “They are on the right track.”
In the earlier third-place play-off, Selangor beat Borneo FC 2-1, thanks to a first-half brace from Muhammad Fahrin Danny.