SEA Games hopefuls fall to Eintracht Frankfurt U23

The German side had trouble dealing with the Young Lions initially, but gradually grabbed a foothold in the friendly game to emerge winners in an entertaining match

The Eintracht Frankfurt Under-23 side dispatched the Courts Young Lions 3-0 on Wednesday evening in a friendly match, despite the Lions being on equal footing with their European counterparts in the first-half.

It was an inexperienced and younger side that started for Eintracht after coach Alexander Schur chose to rest his key players for their next friendly against Indonesia club Arema Indonesia.

The Germans were still able to threaten early with Toni Reljic having a shot at goal in the first minute, before Zahit Fidik had a placed shot saved by Syazwan Buhari.

Despite having to endure a nervy start, the Young Lions were not so easily intimidated and began to play well themselves.

Sherif El-Masri’s first curled a cross-shot from the right wing that just missed the goal by inches in the 21st minute.

The midfielder then followed up his attempt a short while later with a brilliant volley that required a diving save by Philiipp Wolf to keep out.

However, Young Lions were unable to maintain their good showing, and were lucky not to concede due to defender Al-Qaasimy Rahman being quick enough to keep out Reljic’s goal bound shot, before having Max Denefieh hit the crossbar in the 29th minute.

But there was no denying Eintracht the lead in the 35th minute after right-back Marco Muller rifled in teammate Marcel Fahrenholz’s cross beyond Syazwan’s reach.

The flow of the game then completely swung towards Eintracht Frankfurt’s favour as they brought on their more experienced and older players after the break.

Substitute Maximilian Oesterhelweg had a hand in Eintracht’s second goal, pulling back for Reljic to head home in the 53rd minute.

Fellow substitute Hassan Amin then earned a penalty in the 60th minute, having been tackled by Ali Hudzaifi from behind. Oesterhelweg slammed home his spot-kick as Eintracht raced to a 3-0 lead within 15 minutes of the restart.

In a rare foray up front, Young Lions had a good chance to pull one back in the 83rd minute when El-Masri's looping header was heading for the top-right corner, but Wolf managed to push it behind for a corner.

The Germans could have added a couple of goals in the dying minutes of the game but Syazwan made several important saves and left the Young Lions with a respectable score line against more illustrious opponents following the final whistle.

After the match, Schur admitted the Young Lions did give his side some cause for concern and added grabbing the lead helped ease the pressure on his team.

"I think the first 20 minutes we had problems," Schur said. "Young Lions had two, three chances and we also had two or three chances.

"We got one goal, and that was very good for us and made us feel very secure.

"In the first-half it was a very good game, [at a] good level and in the second-half we took control of the game."

Young Lions coach Aide Iskandar was contented with the result, but felt his side could have offered more defensively.

"In general, they competed but we should not concede the goals in the way which we presented the goal, especially the first goal and penalty - all can be avoided," he said.

"But I am a little happy that they managed to play with confidence and they created chances, and we had our chances to score. Unfortunately the goalkeeper did really well, especially with Sherif's shot.

"A goal would have been nice, but at the end of the day these games are actually good for their development."

Schur also had some advice for the Young Lions on how they can improve/

"I think it’s very important that the techniques go [and be maintained in] the whole game, and not [only] for the first 20 minutes," he said.

"They started very good, and very quick in the first 20 minutes. But they became less and less and could not last the whole game."