Singapore celebrates Safirul Sulaiman's (No. 28) opening goal in their 3-1 win over Cambodia on Monday evening. Photo: Sylvester Chin/SINGSOC
Oh how Singapore must love the closing minutes of the half.
A week after Sheikh Abdul Hadi’s goal on the stroke of half time earned them all three points against the Philippines, Aide Iskandar’s side struck twice in first-half stoppage time and again in the 90th minute on Monday evening en route to a 3-1 victory over Cambodia at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
The result was just what the hosts needed in their bid to reach the 28th SEA Games semi-finals.
“We are happy to get the win tonight,” former Singapore international Aide said. “The performance wasn’t the best but a win is a win; and we’ll take it.”
Despite getting off to a bright start, it took the hosts until the 45th minute to break the deadlock through Safirul Sulaiman’s curling free kick. But it was barely a minute before they made it 2-0 through Faris Ramli’s header.
Cambodia substitute Chan Vathanaka gave his side a glimmer of hope when he headed Chhin Chhoeun’s excellent delivery past Syazwan Buhari, but Young Lions striker Sahil Suhaimi wrapped the game up in the closing stages after latching on to Amy Recha’s long ball.
It meant that the Young Lions’ destiny is in their own hands; beat Indonesia in their final Group A tie on Thursday and a place in the last four beckons.
“It’s going to be a good game,” Aide said. “The stakes will be high as both teams will want to reach the semi-finals, and we want those three points.”
Adam Nor Azlin (number 25) celebrates Malaysia’s second goal with team mate against Brunei. Photo: Fiona Hakim/SINGSOC
“(With) more morale and more support (from the player) for one another, we can win!” said Malaysian fan, Mohd Rais. And Malaysia did just that.
Brunei concluded their journey at the football tournament with a 2-0 defeat to Malaysia at Bishan Stadium on Monday evening.
The Brunei defence had held their forts against Malaysia to a goalless first half.
The first shot on target came from Brunei’s captain Faiq Bolkiah who fired his free kick with precision over the wall in the 4th minute, but only to be saved by Malaysian goalkeeper Mohd Farhan Abu Bakar.
Brunei goalkeeper Mohd Ahsan went on to weather the storm from the Malaysian attacks that resulted in 12 attempts on goals and zero goal by the end of first half. Brunei’s clean sheet was overwritten by Malaysia’s substitute Muhammad Nurridzuan Abu Hassan with his goal from a free kick in the 70th minute. Adam Nor Azlin topped up the second goal for Malaysia 6 minutes later after Mohd Ahsan’s failed punch lands the ball in Adam Nor’s path.
“All the players are now crying out in the field and in the dressing room,” said Brunei Coach Stephen Ng who said his boys were disappointed for not securing any points.
Nevertheless, Faiq Bolkiah stated that it was a great experience and a good challenge for all of his team mates playing football at the SEA Games.
Malaysia retains their third place in the Group B table with the win against Brunei. However Malaysia Coach Ong Kim Swee was not too happy with his team’s performance.
“I can’t show them how to put the goal in when there is no goalkeeper down there,” said Ong who talked about his disappointment in his team’s disability to convert their plentiful chances. “That was the difference with Vietnam and Thailand,” pointed out Ong.
Malaysia will play their last match against Laos on Thursday, June 11.
The next game in Bishan Stadium features Timor-Leste against Laos on Tuesday, June 9.