Singapore and Laos fought to a 1-1 draw in football at the SEA Games in Myanmar on Sunday night in Naypyidaw’s Zayyarthiri Stadium.
It was an underwhelming performance from the Singapore Under-23 football team that entered the SEA Games seeking the gold medal, against an underdog Laos team that played virtually the entire match with just 10 men after skipper Khampoumy Hanevilay was sent off just two minutes into the game.
The Young Lions were reportedly embarrassed after the match by their performance against a team they were expected to beat easily, noted one report.
Courts Young Lions striker Sahil Suhaimi scored the first goal, giving Aide Iskandar’s side the lead 28 minutes into the match, but Laos fought back valiantly, scoring the equaliser in the 86th minute through Khouanta Sivongthong’s header.
Prior to the SEA Games, the Football Association of Singapore gave the team a target of reaching the final. Aide Iskander, the recently appointed head coach, was tasked with at least equalling Singapore’s best ever finish of second place, which they last achieved in the 1989 Games.
Singapore has never won the SEA Games football gold medal.
Aide said the team’s quality should see them through, but he doesn’t want to place too much pressure on his team, said one report.
Singapore is in a group with the reigning champions Malaysia, and heavyweights Vietnam and Brunei.
Prior to the Games, Aide had said, “It looks a fair group. I’ve told the players I have every confidence in them to do a good job. But then again, we have to be careful, we can’t be overconfident. The first game will be very crucial for us to get three points.”
The result of the opening match against Laos was hardly what anyone in Singapore was hoping for or expecting.
Singapore’s next match is against Vietnam on Tuesday. The Vietnamese team defeated Brunei 7-0 in their opening game.