Singapore wins plaudits as they go down fighting in Barclays Asia Trophy
20 July, 2015
Singapore football legend V Sundramoorthy said the Barclays Asia Trophy had been a fantastic experience for his young Select XI and hoped the world class teams would keeping coming to the National Stadium.
The Sundramoorthy-coached Singapore side pushed Arsenal for long periods on Wednesday in front of a large crowd at the National Stadium before two second half penalties helped the English FA Cup winners secure a 4-0 win.
Arsenal's Jack Wilshere challenging Singapore Select XI's Baihakki Khaizan. Photo: Sport Singapore
In Saturday's contest against a strong Stoke team, Singapore impressed before going down 2-0 but Sundramoorthy, who led Lions XI to the Malaysian Super League title in 2013, was pleased with his side's efforts.
"If you are looking at the overall summary of these two games I am really impressed with the boys, they have done great and the way they played the game, the passing the ball around, this is the way to go," he told reporters.
"If they can match themselves against top teams like Arsenal and Stoke they will learn something in which they can move forward in their football career."
Stoke boss Mark Hughes was also full of praise for the Singapore side.
Stoke's Marko Arnautovic (left) and Singapore Select's Gabriel Quak fighting for possession during the game. Photo: Sport Singapore
"They were very bright with their movement, their thinking. Their technique is very good. They have a good understanding and play at a high tempo," the former Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Barcelona striker said.
The two day attendance of 81,974 was a record for the biennial Barclays Asia Trophy, surpassing the previous mark of 76,336 set in Hong Kong in 2007.
Sundramoorthy said his players had thrived in the atmosphere, learnt a lot and hoped the prestigious tournament would return again in two years’ time.
"It’s a great atmosphere and they really enjoyed these two games and they would really love to have more tournaments like this, that's the feeling in the dressing room," he said.
Singapore goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud, who produced 18 saves as the national team held fabled Japan to a goalless draw in their World Cup qualifier last month, again had an impressive tournament.
Singapore Select XI's Izwan Mahbud (on ground, with gloves) in action against Arsenal's Jon Toral. Photo: Sport Singapore
Izwan, who celebrated his 25th birthday last week, said the experience to play against top English sides, albeit it not his beloved Manchester United, had been vital.
"I will cherish this experience, I learnt a lot out of this," he said.