For The Record...
"In an interview with Yahoo! Singapore, Zainudin (Nordin, FAS President) reiterated that the S-league will not become a "poorer cousin" once the LionsXII start their Malaysia Cup campaign."

Sunday, September 07, 2014

"Singapore clearly underestimated PNG" said Rufer after gallant 2-1 loss to Lions

Valentine Nelson (3) headed for safety
Some interesting pointers to take note from this "A-Lister" between Singapore and Papua New Guinea that was played this evening at Hougang and saw the hosts walked away victorious with a 2-1 scoreline.

There is this a new FIFA ruling that I was told, despite having four Singaporeans listed as the match officials for the game, it's considered an "A" international match that saw a few Lions debutants earning their first cap for the country in which a special procedure is needed to register that.

Sahil Suhaimi (7) - the first scorer of the night
However, not making his presence at the match was national coach Bernd Stange, who was reported down with fever that his role was covered by Courts Young Lions coach Aide Iskandar, his assistant for this series.

To be honest, not much information on Papua New Guinea prior to this match other than they are being coached by New Zealander Wynton Rufer who is a legend in his own right.

Suria Prakash earned his Lions cap
Fadli Kamis earned his first cap as a starter
Departed himself from the rest of those other national coaches during their post-match assessment after they played Singapore, the well-travelled Rufer was outright straight forward with his no-holds-barred comments when sharing his thoughts.

Commenting on the first goal conceded by his side in the 17th minute, the former Werder Bremen striker said:"I felt that the first goal we conceded was a soft one where I had three grandmothers stood there watching to allow your striker (Sahil Suhaimi) to score,

"Despite the loss, I am happy with the performance where we closed the spaces, knocked the ball down and it's very important to us for this build up to next July when we will be hosting the Pacific Games, result like tonight will help us to get additional funding for that."

"And I think the Singapore side clearly underestimated PNG tonight for maybe because they are to play against a much stronger Hong Kong side (on coming Tuesday) that I told my team to take advantage of that mentality to more aggressive in the match."

Another close shave for the Papuans in 2nd half
PNG deservingly earned their consolation in 61st
Certainly, no one could agree more with the assessment by the man named as the "Oceania Footballer of the Century" following the tepid display by the Lions in the first of the two-match series in this part of the island for the preparation for the November AFF Suzuki Cup, which Singapore are the defending champions for the regional tournament.

Also with a number of debutants that included the likes of Fadli Kamis, Suria Prakash and Amirul Adli marked their maiden Lions appearance, it's not a surprise to see this outing as a final test for the Asian Games squad that is yet to be announced.

PNG should be proud despite the loss
Yet, it was the Papuans who stole the limelight with their impressive showing, especially in the second half, by did well to restrict the Lions from gaining any further advantage after Fazrul Nawaz doubled the lead in the 24th minute with a shot supplied by Shafiq Ghani's cross and eventually well rewarded themselves a consolation in the 61st minute from a Raymond Gunemba strike that drove past replacement custodian Izwan Mahbud.

Coach Rufer gave a honest assessment
Apparently, the lack of clinical finishing in their attacking in the second half was the culprit from stretching the margin apart, in the opinion of Coach Aide at the end of the night.

Said the former Hougang United coach:"We tried to field the best team for tonight's game but it didn't seems to get it right in the first 15 minutes but then we did score two goals in the first half and if only we are more clinical in the second half where we started well that we made some changes which included a few debutants tonight."

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