Singapore’s Under-23 National Team took on FK Pribram, a top-flight professional team in the Czech premier football league, in a friendly match yesterday.
The Young Lions, who are currently on a three-week training tour in Austria, suffered a heavy 6-1 defeat, but the lads put up a tough fight against a team filled with former Czech youth and senior internationals, and who finished 12th of 16 teams in the Czech’s premier division.
The game started off well for the Singapore side, who earned a free kick within minutes of kick-off, after Al-Qassimy spotted Faris Ramli on the left, who was then brought down just outside the penalty box.
Faris stepped up to take the kick, but hit the post before Shahfiq Ghani followed up with a stunning bicycle kick that tested Pribram’s goalkeeper Marek Bomac, who stretched out to tip the shot over the bar.
The Czech side scored the first goal of the game in the 8th minute through 33-year-old Tomáš Zápotočný, a former Czech Republic international. They extended their lead once again in the 28th minute through a long range shot by Zoran Danoski, and wrapped up the first half with a 3-0 scoreline, after Petr Svancara executed a fantastic half-volley in the 42nd minute.
FK Pribram lashed out two more goals as the second half began, scoring two quick goals in the 50th and 51st minute through Ladislav Volešák and Dominik Kraut.
The Young Lions refused to give up despite the 5-0 scoreline, and their hard work finally paid out in the 57th minute when Faris Ramli pulled one back for the team.
Al-Qaasimy won the ball in the final third and fed it to Shahfiq Ghani, whose instinctive first touch found Faris Ramli. The LionsXII player raced down the left to and calmly dribbled the past the goalkeeper to score one for his team.
Seventeen-year-old Irfan Fandi and FC Metz player Adam Swandi also featured in the match, as substitutes who came on at the 62nd minute.
Finally, Petr Švancara scored again in the 83rd minute to bring the final score to 6-1.
Under-23 coach Aide Iskandar was happy with his side’s performance despite the harsh defeat, and praised Faris Ramli for his excellent goal.
"I'm happy with my boys’ performance today,” said coach Aide Iskandar. “We knew we were up against extremely tough opponents who play professionally in the Czech Premier League and it was always going to be a real test for them. But my boys have done well and importantly created chances against a much better side.”
"Physically, you can see that the Czech team is so much bigger and that’s because they play professionally at such a high level for a long time. I'm happy that Faris Ramli managed to score a goal for us and took it with such confidence and poise."
The next friendly match for the Young Lions will be against Borussia Dortmund’s Under-23 team, a tough side who have seen the likes of Germany’s Marco Reus and Mario Gotze come through their ranks.
"The next match against Dortmund’s Under-23 team is going to be a hard task but as always, we will put in our best efforts and progress as a team throughout this trip," assured coach Aide.
Singapore U-23 Line-up
18. Rudy Khairullah (GK) (replaced by 1. Syazwan Buhari in 45th min)
2. Shakir Hamzah (replaced by Shameer Aziq in 45th min)
3. Fadli Kamis (replaced by Ali Hudzaifi in 45th min)
7. Sahil Suhaimi (replaced by Suria Prakash in 80th min)
10. Faris Ramli (replaced by Ammirul Emmran in 62nd minute)
11. Shahfiq Ghani (replaced by Adam Swandi in 62nd minute)
14. Mohamed Iqbal
15. Sheikh Abdul Hadi
16. Muhammad Amirul Adli
19. Muhammad Nur Na'iim (replaced by Irfan Fandi in 62nd minute)
20. Al-Qaasimy Rahman (replaced by Delwinder Singh in 72nd minute)