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AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022: Singapore 3-2 Myanmar

Lions keep up hundred percent record against Myanmar in the ASEAN Football Federation Championship

PHOTO: FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE


24 December 2021, Singapore - Singapore kicked off their AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup tournament with a victory over a tough Myanmar test at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

The Lions enter this match with key players missing from injuries and suspensions. Ikhsan Fandi and Adam Swandi were both out because of injuries, and Irfan Fandi and Hassan Sunny had to sit this game out due to their suspension because of the red card they received got from their last AFF Championship match against Indonesia in the semi-final second leg.

Myanmar made three changes to the squad that faced Malaysia in their first match of the competition, which ended in a 1-0 loss. Myo Min Latt features in goal ahead of Kyaw Zin Phyo, whilst Hyen Phyo Win replaces Kyaw Zin Lwin at right back. Lin Htet Soe comes in for Yan Niang Oo in midfield, with the dangerous three up front being Hein Htet Aung, Aung Kaung Mann, and captain Mg Mg Lwin hoping to cause trouble to the Singapore backline.

PHOTO: FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE

There was much talk regarding the venue of the tournament being held at Jalan Besar, with Myanmar’s coach Antoine Hey sharing how he feels about the astroturf not being a useful solution for very intensive senior international matches. Sadly, the turf was not to be faulted for the venue’s giant display screen being faulty as the starting line echoed all around the stadium.

The Lions were defining to set the tone of the match, using their speed to tackle Myanmar’s physical style of play. It almost paid off when Ilhan Fandi was played through in the 6th minute by Shawal Anuar down the right-hand side number 19 was able to outpace the last defender and chose to lob the ball over the incoming Myo Min Latt, who could only watch as the ball hit the top of the net and out of play.

PHOTO: FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE

Myanmar looked the most menacing on the counter, and it was no surprise to anyone when they broke the deadlock in the 34th minute. Singapore’s captain Hariss Harun was caught with the ball in the Myanmar half from a lovely tackle by Kyaw Min Oo. Nanda Kyaw played in Aung Kaung Mann, who held up play just in time for him to play in his captain Mg Mg Lwin who had the composure and skill to go past Shakir Hamzah and place a delightful shot past Zaiful Nizam to make it 1-0 to the away side.


That goal came as a wake-up call to the Lions, who started to attack more from the left through Christoper Van Huizen and Faris Ramli. The desire to score was so great that you felt the players in red would put everything on the line to get onto the scoresheet. Ilhan Fandi made that notion very clear when in the 41st minute, the striker placed his head in a dangerous area trying to meet a cross by Faris Ramli.

PHOTO: FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE


Instead, his chin met with the gloves of an on-rushing Myo Min Latt. Both players fell to the floor, with Ilhan landing motionless. A worrying sight for everyone as the medics came rushing to the youngster’s aid. The silence slowly changed to cheers as Ilhan got up and started jogging his way to the side of the pitch, waiting for the referee to wave him back on.

To quote the first line from the song Tubthumping by Chumbawamba, I get knocked down, but I get up again. That best describes the next few minutes for Ilhan Fandi. Upon being waved on, he was getting stuck into all the scrappy tackles. Just moments later, he rose highest and nodded in the equaliser from an inch-perfect delivery from Christopher Van Huizen.

PHOTO: FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE

Faris Ramli and Hafiz Nor made way for Rhyan Stewart and Hami Syahin at halftime.

As we enter halftime, both teams would want to take the ascendency at the start of the second half.


That was gifted to Singapore due to horrific goalkeeping from Myo Min Latt. Shah Shahiran cushioned a shot to the far top corner of the goal after receiving a layoff pass from half-time substitute Hami Syahin. The Myanmar number 1 misjudged his dive to save the shot and could only get his fingertips on it as he saw the ball bounce into the net, giving the Lions a 2-1 lead after just 4 minutes of the second half.

PHOTO: FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE

Singapore’s manager Takayuki Nishigaya took off Ilhan and Anumanthan in the 53rd minute to make way for Amy Recha and Johsua Pereira, with the latter being one of the four debutants for Singapore in the AFF Championships – the other 3 being Rhyan Stewart, Christopher Van Huizen and Shah Shahiran.


Myanmar’s standout player would be their captain, Maung Maung Lwin. The skipper would be at the forefront of all of Myanmar’s attacks, and it is no surprise to see the 27-year-old spurring his teammates on and making them believe there is a way back. Sometimes you must show it to them yourself, which is precisely what he did in the 66th minute when he pounced on a poor clearance by Rhyan Stewart and lashed a thunderous strike beyond Zaiful Nizam’s reach to make it 2-2.

PHOTO: FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE

With such intensity, it was no surprise to see most players succumbing to muscle cramps and getting as much medical attention as possible. Christopher Van Huizen was such a case where his tireless running took its toll before the second goal was conceded, and so too was Shawal Anuar, who was seen continuously stretching and managing himself as the game progressed. Van Huizen had to be substituted for Nazrul Nazari at the 67th-minute mark.


The Singaporean fans, though, always kept their intensity of support for the Lions. Soon they were rewarded in the 74th minute with sheer hard work and dedication with a hint of goalkeeping error as Zaiful Nizam delivered a goal kick that would impress the likes of Alisson Becker in Liverpool as it bounced kindly for the incoming Shawal Anuar, who never gave up and saw the keeper choosing to stay on his line as he produces a vicious volley that clipped the side of the goal post and into the net. A lack of communication on the part of the Myanmar defensive line, but it does take away the hard work from the man of the match, Shawal Anuar, who makes it 3-2 to the Lions.

PHOTO: FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE


The game took an ugly twist towards the end of the match when Nanda Kyaw was sent off for lashing out at Shah Shahiran after a clash of shins which sparked multiple confrontations from both sets of players. Referee Kim Jong Heyok was quick at the scene and did not hesitate in making his decision to brandish the card and separate the players so that the match could resume.

The boys in Red had to defend a resilient Myanmar side that did not care about the number of players on the pitch as they bombarded the Singapore half with attacks to find that equaliser.

However, just as it was against Malaysia, Myanmar would suffer another narrow defeat at the hands of Singapore when the referee blew the final whistle after 6 minutes of stoppage time. The whistle was greeted with most players falling to the ground after going through a gruelling affair filled with physical and emotional energy all around the Jalan Besar Stadium.

PHOTO: FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE


During the press conference, Antoine Hey was not holding back his honest opinion of the match. He felt the concentration of his players was vital, and some individual mistakes were the main reasons for their downfall. Still, he felt that his Myanmar side was the better squad on the night, especially with his side dominating the portion of the game with only ten men.

Takayuki Nishigaya, however, was very humble in victory. He believed the game was a very tight affair, but the victory was due to the fantastic support from the fans and his players. When asked about the early substitutions and any possible injuries, Coach Nishigaya shared that the substitutions were tactical. He would be awaiting any feedback from his medical team that would reassess the players and get them back to optimal fitness as quickly as possible.


Singapore now lies third in the Group B of the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022, with Malaysia and Vietnam finding themselves in the top 2, respectively, following Malaysia’s 5-0 thrashing over Laos 5-0. Singapore would now look set to face Laos on the 27th of December, while Vietnam faces Malaysia in a tasty encounter. Myanmar will be on a break until the 30th of December when they will face Cambodia in their third match in the group.


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