Thursday, December 20, 2012


Advantage Lions

In a way this was a repeat of their opening group game against Malaysia. Singapore sprang from the traps and they made sure they got in the faces of their Thai opponents early doors as I believe football people like to say.

The Thais may have come into this game as slight favourites over the two legs, and that crucial away goals will give them a massive boost back at Supachalasai, but last night they were made to look very average indeed by a harrying, aggressive, pumped up Singapore.

The home team took the lead after Aleksander Duric, did you know he is 42 years old, was felled in the box. Mustafic Fahruddin scored but was told he must retake the kick as Khairul Amri had prematurely entered the box.

It can't have been easy for Farra, the former Persija and Persela midfielder. Ahead of the first attempt the massive Kawin, Muang Thong United's excellent young keeper, took his time, caressing the posts and the crossbar looking for all the world like he was strolling in Lumpinee Park, not about to face a cup final penalty.

For the second go Kawin followed the same routine but to no avail. Farra, experienced old war horse that he is, was unperturbed and sent the keeper the wrong way. There was a concern for the Tampines player as he celebrated with a leap worthy of a 15 year old.

Second half the Thais, subdued and unable to get their expansive football flowing, did get one back but Khairul Amri spun on a 50 cent coin to restore the lead.

Datsakorn Thonglao, the experienced Thai playmaker, was little more than a non paying spectator and you could see him getting more and more wound up as the Singapore players took it in turns to take him out. Top  players would not have let it get to them; Datsakorn, moody, brooded and looked distracted, unhappy at being unable to impose himself as he would have liked.

At the death Singapore were still pressing, a testament to their fitness levels, and from a late corner Baihakki Khazian hit the roof of the net from about seven inches to secure the game and give the Lions some kind of cushion ahead of the second leg.

It was a well deserved goal for Singapore and for Baihakki. Too often in the past he has been made a scapegoat, perhaps his languid style being misread but this competition he has been impressive and dominated the likes of Teerasil and Norshahrul; no mean feat for the tall defender.

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