AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup: Irfan Fandi scored in Singapore win against spirited Laos

The Singapore national football team maintained their perfect record in the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup Group B match as they came away with a 2-0 win, courtesy of a goal each from Irfan Fandi and Shawal Anuar, against Laos in Vientiane on Tuesday evening. This is Lion’s second win, having won their opening game 3-2 against Myanmar.

With two wins, Singapore is currently in third place behind Malaysia, which suffered a 3-0 loss to Vietnam on the same day. Malaysia has played three matches, winning their first two games, 1-0 and 5-0, against Myanmar and Laos, respectively.

Although Singapore is unbeaten, they may be wary of their next opponent Vietnam, who is leading Group B with six points, scoring nine goals and have not conceded any goal. Vietnam opened the campaign with a 6-0 win over Laos.

“We have to think about the players’ condition and that is why we decided to use some fresh players. I am happy that they performed well and we now have to think about the next game. I do not think it (the changes) affected us; we had a good first half where we had the ball and created chances a lot of the time, but of course there is still room to grow,” said head coach Takayuki Nishigaya as mentioned on Football Association of Singapore’s website.

Despite the three points, it was not exactly an inspiring performance from the Lions, that made six changes for the match, including welcoming the return of goalkeeper Hassan Sunny and centre-back Irfan Fandi who were both suspended for the previous match due to a red card they received from the last tournament. Song Uiyong and Zulfahmi Arifin also made the start.

Photo: Football Association of Singapore

It was the Laotians that made their presence felt first in the match. In the 12th minute, captain Soukaphone Vongchiengkham tried a long-range shot from outside the penalty shot that took a wicked bounce off the ground but fortunately for Singapore, Hassan did well to handle it.

Singapore had a decent amount of possession and tried to penetrate the hosts from both flanks, including testing Laos custodian Keo-Oudone Souvannasangso from the distance and set-pieces.

The visitors finally got their breakthrough in the 32nd minute. Zulfahmi floated the ball from a free-kick down the left, and Irfan rose highest to head home his second international goal.

It was a nerve-wracking second half as head coach Michael Weiss sent his side out with an attacking mindset. Just after the break, Phithack Kongmathilath was denied by the bar, and Chony Wenpaserth shot destined for the bottom left corner was saved by Hassan in the 60th minute.

Singapore could have doubled their lead before that in the 50th minute after Faris Ramli cleverly dribbled past Laos goalkeeper Keo, but his weak attempt was cleared off the line by defender Anantaza Siphongphan, and his follow-up shot was palmed away by Keo.

The visitors’ perseverance finally paid off in injury time. Keo failed to keep possession of the ball as Shawal snatched it and slotted it into the empty net to ensure three points for the Lions.

Singapore will next welcome Vietnam to the Jalan Besar Stadium on 30 Dec, while Laos will face Myanmar on the same day. The final Group B matches will be on 3 Jan, Vietnam will be up against Myanmar, and Singapore will travel to the Bukit Jalil National Stadium to take on Malaysia.


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