A costly defensive error led to the Singapore Under-23s falling to a disappointing 1-0 defeat against their Cambodian counterparts in a “B” friendly on Friday evening.
Scheduled as part of their SEA Games preparations, Aide Iskandar watched on as his second team went down to Chan Vathanaka’s 72nd-minute goal, which could have been easily prevented.
Senior internationals Faritz Hameed, Madhu Mohana and Hafiz Sujad all started, with the last of that trio captaining the side, as Lions head coach Bernd Stange also paced the Jalan Besar Stadium touchline.
Singapore were the better side but they failed to capitalise on their chances, although even those were not in abundance.
Courts Young Lions striker Fareez Farhan blasted the best chance of the first half wide despite being granted time and space to line up his half-volley on the edge of the box in the 26th minute.
Forward Sahil Suhaimi, who scored the winner in the “A” team’s 1-1 draw with Hougang United on Tuesday, came on at the start of the second half along with LionsXII striker Shahfiq Ghani.
Those two immediately started combining to threaten upfront, Sahil taking only four minutes to set Nazrul Nazari clear with a slide-rule ball. However, the winger’s attempted chip floated well over the bar with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Sahil then slammed a 25-yard drive wide, before a one-two with Shahfiq resulted in the latter poking the ball past the oncoming goalkeeper but also past the post.
In between those two efforts, Vathanaka had already served a warning of his own by cutting on from the right to fire a tame left-footed striker that substitute goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari unconvincingly parried away.
On the hour mark, Sok Pheng had Syazwan backpedalling frantically as his ambitious 40-yard attempt narrowly cleared the bar.
M. Anumanthan then slashed a first-time shot wildly over after Aqhari Abdullah’s corner found its way to the far post, before the midfielder nearly turned villain.
A sloppy pass from the Young Lions midfielder gave the ball to Sok Pheng 30 yards from goal, but the Cambodia striker rushed his shot under no pressure and sent it bobbling safely into Syazwan’s grateful arms.
Singapore would not be so lucky, barely one minute later.
Raihan Rahman dawdled on the ball after receiving a short pass from Syazwan outside the area and was ruthlessly robbed by Sok Pheng. He advanced into the area and proceeded to find Vathanaka in support, with the midfielder coolly firing into the bottom corner past a helpless Syazwan.
The hosts tried to rally, with Shahfiq sidefooting Faritz’s low cross wide and Izzdin Shafiq forcing the goalkeeper to palm away a stinging 25-yard drive in the final 10 minutes.
But it was to no avail as the Cambodians held on for the victory, with both teams due to meet again in a friendly on Sunday, November 24.
Singapore XI: Khairulhin (Syazwan 45'), Faritz, Madhu, Raihan, Ali, Nazrul (Faris 79'), Aqhari, Anu, Hafiz (C) (Izzdin 77'), Iqbal (Sahil 45'), Fareez (Shahfiq 45'). Unused substitutes: Safuwan, Shakir, Hariss, Zulfahmi.