It may have been a close door friendly, but tonight’s match between the Singapore Asian Games Team and their Malaysian counterparts was by no means a light affair. Both teams were determined to prove their mettle, but it was the home side who came away victorious with a well-deserved 1-0 win at the Bishan stadium thanks to Qiu Li’s 24th minute strike.
The first clear chance of the game fell to Singapore in the 13th min when midfielder Nazrul Ahmad went clear on goal, but the Malaysian custodian, Mohd Farizal Marlias was quick off his line.
Singapore took the lead midway through the first half, with a fine team effort after four passes in quick succession, resulting in a simple tap in for the S.League’s current leading scorer Qiu.
The Tampines Rovers forward, together with club-mate Khairul Amri and SAFFC defender Daniel Bennett, were the three “over-aged’ players in the U-23 team.
Qiu was in the thick of the action again five minutes later when he took on a lacklustre Malaysian defence, laying off the ball for Hariss Harun, only for the midfielder to see his effort go inches off the left post.
Malaysia approached the second half with more intent, coming close in the 46th minute when forward Norshahrul Idlan broke free from the Singapore defence following a lapse in concentration by centre-back Safuwan Baharudin.
The visitors kept on the pressure when Ahamad Fakri Saari’s 57th minute shot was well blocked by substitute goalkeeper Jasper Chan.
Singapore’s defence was put to test once again after a late tackle on Bennett saw the defender substituted in the 68th minute. Hariss performed admirably having to fall back into the slot as a makeshift centre back.
Singapore ended the game on a positive, coming close to doubling their lead after substitute Fazli Ayob pounced on a well crafted through ball by Gabriel Quak, only for Malaysian goalkeeper Farizal to parry the ball away.
Said Singapore coach V Sundram Moorthy: “I’m pleased with the result. Overall, I feel that the boys were hungry and considering this is our first game, I feel that the boys managed to keep the ball well technically. There are still areas to work on, such as working better as a group and that will come with more games.”
Singapore Asian Games Team:
Zaiful Nizam (GK) (Jasper Chan (gk) 46’), Safuwan Baharudin (Afiq Yunos 85’), Abdil Qaiyyim (Raihan Abdul Rahman 34’), Shakir Hamzah (Mahdu Mohana 66’), Daniel Bennett (Firdaus Kasman 68’), Hariss Harun, Nazrul Ahmad Nazari (Gabriel Quak 46’), Izzdin Shafiq (Hafiz Abu Sujad 82’), Shahdan Sulaiman, Qiu Li (Fazli Ayob 87’) and Khairul Amri (Khairul Nizam 75’)