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."

Monday, November 24, 2014

AFF Suzuki Cup: Lions marked a heart breaking home debut with a 2-1 loss to Thailand

Hassan dived correctly but can't stop the Thais' winner
It could not have been a worst possible start for the defending Asean football champions with a defeat in the hands of those they defeated two years ago to clinch that fourth title.

But that twisted fate saw the reversal of the role with Singapore National Team, playing their first full international match in the new National Stadium, ended the night with a heart-breaking loss to Thailand on a 2-1 scoreline.

A general consensus from several sectors concluded a draw would be a fair result for both, while some opinions suggested the War Elephants looked relatively raw and inexperienced (since a large part of the team are elevated from the recent Incheon Asian Games squad).

A pretty even first half saw a keenly contested affair from both sides with some intensify attacking plays that saw the visitors pulled the first trigger in the ninth minute with a Prakit Deeprom's strike that riveted past Hassan Sunny but it wasn't that long following some pilling up before the home supporters had something to cheer about.

Amri maintains his fine record against Thailand
Shahril Ishak (right) threaded a ball through with this lob
Pacing his way on his usual left flank saw Shaiful Esah whipped a ball across into the box that saw striker Khairul Amri timed his jump well to connect with a diving header to ignite a wild celebration among the 32,000 fans in the arena.

It was the score that remained that way, despite having the Thais being the more dominant side in the second half after Lions' coach Bernd Stange decided that replacing lynchpin Baihakki Khaizan at half time is something of an essentiality with the Johor-bound defender already on a yellow card.

The deemed necessity eventually saw holding midfielder Hariss Harun partnering Safuwan Baharudin in the center-back pairing that slotted in Zulfahmi Arifin in middle of the field with Shahdan Sulaiman.

Faris Ramli (11) gained advantage in this play
Hariss (right) shifted to centerback in second half
Lions' defence held the Thais at bay till the penalty
Barring a few nervy moments, the makeshift backline were able to cope with the Thais' onslaught until Safuwan was adjudged to have committed a handball offence in the box in 88th to allow Swiss-born Charyl Yannic Chappius to score the all-important winning goal from the spot a minute later, in spite protests from the home team and the partisan crowds.

"It was a difficult game, since Singapore are four-time champions (of this tournament),"said Thailand's coach Kiatisuk Senamuang in the post-match press conference.

"We were trying to get a least a point from this game, but I think we are lucky to get all three points in the 'Group of Death' and I would like to thank the players for working hard, it is also a good experience for them with many of whom played in the recent Asian Games." added the former SAFFC striker nicknamed "Zico" by the adoring Thai public.

Thailand's coach Kiatisuk Senamuang 
Having finally experienced what is "Kallang Roar" for the first time, a visibly disappointed Singapore coach Bernd Stange opined a draw would be a fair outcome.

Speaking to the media after the match, the German tactician said:"It was a good intense game, but we were very unlucky that I felt we deserved a draw."

"Now the pressure would be higher for us (to qualify for the next phrase) and I don't want any luck, what I want is performance from the team who missed some clear chances to get the second goal that I was expecting a little bit more from, but that's football and you can't change anything."

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