Hong Kong 1 (Lee Hong Lim 35”)
Reporting from Hong Kong, China- In a highly anticipated game in the Special Administration Region of Hong Kong, the Singapore National team was defeated 1-0 by a highly energetic Hong Kong team who played a compact and pressing game.
Singapore came into the game missing several regulars like Captain Shahril Ishak, defender Juma’at Jantan, Safuwan Baharudin and midfield dynamo Hariss Harun.
Despite being plagued by these missing players, coach Raddy Avramovic still had a wealth of options and managed to put several experienced players into the team along with highly talented youngsters Safirul Sulaiman and Hyrulnizam Juma’at.
The Lions started the game a gear behind the Hong Kong team who had highly rated Ghanian-born hitman Godfrey Kari Kari in their side but it was the Lions who created the first decent chance within the first few minutes in the game. A throw in by Shaiful Esah gets to the feet of Agu Casmir but he was denied by some spirited defending from Hong Kong who were determined not to fall behind so early.
After the early scare for the home side, it was all Hong Kong from then on as Lee Hong Lim and Lam Ka Wai both missed chances to take the lead for their team.
Another free kick from Lam Ka Wai after Mustafic Fahrudin conceded a foul on the edge of the area was curled to Ah Lau’s left post. The Lions XII custodian did not hesitate as he dived full stretch to deny Hong Kong again.
Hong Kong continued the game controlling possession and finally found the breakthrough in the 35th minute; A cross from Au Yeung Yiu Chung fell to the feet of the ever dangerous Lam Ka Wai who was somehow left free near the penalty spot. The Hong Kong attacker did not need any invitation and duly slotted it past the Lions defence.
The second half tilted slightly in the Lions' favour as Raddy brought on Qiu Li for Ahmad Fahmie while Izwan Mahbud was sent on for Ah Lau.
Agu threatened again after reaching the second ball from a cross within the penalty area but his effort was too weak and Hong Kong keeper Yapp Hung Fai managed to claw the ball back into his arms.
Safirul was the next one to have a decent chance for the Lions as he was sent through onto a one on one with the Hong Kong Keeper but Yapp managed to reach the ball first and cleared it above the Lions XII winger.
However, the situation was turned around in no time as Hong Kong started to apply pressure on Singapore again after Karikari sent Lee Hong Lim clear towards Izwan Mahbud who had to put in a wonderful tackle to deny Hong Kong from extending their lead.
The game went on to become a bore from then onwards as Singapore resorted to the ever familiar diagonal long ball tactic to try and get the much needed equalizer.
“This is not our game”
Speaking to the press at the post-game conference, Lions coach Raddy Avramovic felt that the game could have gone either way and his charges put in a good game considering that it was the international debut for several of the players:
“The new boys tried their best and they need some time to adapt but it is their first game for the national team and I think some of them can go on to become national team regulars”
“Goalkeeper (Hyrulnizam Juma'at) can continue to go on and represent the national team and I think all of them did well tonight even though it was the first game for them.”
Coach Raddy however implied that this is not the way his team plays and they will be playing possession football if he had the available players.
“We will play more possession and more passing if the regulars were playing. At some moments today we tried to play the long ball and it is not our game”
Singapore will next play Malaysia in the Causeway Challenge next Friday, 8th June 2012 at the Jalan Besar Stadium and will be expecting the return of some of the first team regulars who were ruled out from travelling due to national service commitments.
There will also be a return leg against the Hong Kong team scheduled for August also at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
HK Line Up: Yapp (GK), Lee C.H, Huang, Lee H. L (Chan), Lam (Yip), Au Yeung (Bai), Lo, Chan, Leung (Liu), Chak (Cheung), Karikari (Leung)
Singapore Line Up: Hyrulnizam Juma'at (GK) (Izwan Mahbud), Isa Halim (Raihan Rahman), Baihakki Khaizan (C), Shahdan Sulaiman, Agu Casmir, Mustafic Fahrudin, Daniel Bennett, Shaiful Esah (Irwan Shah), Delwinder Singh (Poh Yi Feng), Ahmed Fahmie (Qiu Li), Safirul Sulaiman (Firdaus Kasman)
Yellow Card: Mustafic Fahrudin (14”)