Singapore wary of tough Thai challenge
A 3-0 win over the Philippines might make for a flattering result, but Singapore are well aware that the real test lies on Sunday, when they take on Thailand in the Merlion Cup final.
Noting that the Thais' 2-1 win over Indonesia was of a higher intensity, Singapore coach Fandi Ahmad emphasised the need for his team to be tighter at the back.
He said after their victory over the Philippines on the opening day of the Under-22 tournament at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday: “When we’re under pressure, we clear the ball unnecessarily. We should be more composed. Today, we had three youngsters and they did not do badly, but I can see that they were jittery.
“We started creating chances from set-pieces which are our strength (but) defensively, we are still not that tight and need to improve on that.”
Singapore defender Irfan Fandi, who was named the Man-of-the-Match against the Philippines, is familiar with the challenge ahead. Two of his clubmates from BG Pathum United – defender Apisit Sorada and midfielder Siwakorn Sangwong – are with the Thais.
“They are a very strong, technical side. All of them have good technique and have very gifted players. They also have good one-touch, two-touch passing and this is very dangerous for a defender,” said the 21-year-old centre-back.
“They broke Indonesia’s defence many times today and they’re going to do the same thing (with us).”
Against the Philippines, who are made up of mostly college players, Singapore took the lead in the 26th minute when striker Amiruldin Asraf capitalised on a weak back-pass from centre-back Pete Forrosuelo to blast the ball past custodian Michael Asong.
In the 62nd minute, midfielder Hami Syahin floated a free-kick towards the far post, where a towering Irfan headed the ball in.
Just five minutes later, winger Daniel Goh tore down the right flank and crossed for an unmarked Ikhsan Fandi, who came on as a second-half substitute, to score with a simple tap-in.
Such easy chances are unlikely to come by against the Thais, who have won the SEA Games football gold in the last three editions.
The Merlion Cup final will take place at 7.30pm on Sunday at Jalan Besar Stadium, after the third-placing match between Indonesia and the Philippines at 4.30pm.