BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Ahead of the 2018 AFF Championship at the end of the year, over the weekend, Southeast Asian teams utilised the international match window to play in friendly matches.
On Friday, Singapore were held to a 1-1 draw at the Bishan Stadium by Mauritius, the Lions' first match under newly-appointed head coach, legendary former player Fandi Ahmad. The visitors opened the scoring just five minutes into the match through Jonathan Justin's goal, and the hosts had to wait until the 75th minute for the equaliser, scored by Fandi's own son Ikhsan Fandi.
On the same day, Philippines too played their first match under a new head coach, Scott Cooper, with his new charges held to a 1-1 draw by Bahrain at the Bahrain National Stadium. Phil Younghusband converted from the spot in the 49th minute to give the visitors the lead, but Cardiff City star goalkeeper Neil Etheridge could not do much to deny Sayed Adnan Hussein from equalising for the hosts in the final seconds of the game.
Malaysia meanwhile lost 2-0 to Chinese Taipei at the Taipei Municipal Stadium.
On Saturday, Timor-Leste booked the last spot in the AFF Championship finals despite losing 1-0 to Brunei in the second leg of the play-off match, as the tie ended 3-2 on aggregate in their favour. In the match that was held at the Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium, the only goal of the match was scored by Najib Tarif in the 75th minute. The Little Samba Nation will be placed in Group B in the tournament later this year, their first appearance since 2004.
On Monday, Indonesia will host Mauritius, while Cambodia will host Malaysia, the Angkor Warriors' first match under new head coach, Japanese star Keisuke Honda. Singapore will play at home against Fiji on the following day, while Laos will play away to UAE on Wednesday.
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