SINGAPORE (11 June 2017) – Despite taking an early lead, Singapore fell to a narrow 2-1 defeat to Chinese Taipei in their Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup Group E qualifier at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night.
Chen Tsan-Yuan cancelled out Hariss Harun’s early opener before Chen Chao-An netted the winner in the second half as Chinese Taipei moved level on points with leaders Turkmenistan, albeit having played a game more.
It was Singapore, however, who got off to a flying start when skipper Hariss rose highest to nod home Shahdan Sulaiman’s corner after just six minutes.
Safuwan Baharudin – who started upfront in the absence of Khairul Amri – then got onto the end of a Shahdan freekick in the 19th minute, but his header was gathered by Chinese Taipei goalkeeper Chiu Yu-Hung.
The visitors refused to throw in the towel and Singapore then had goalkeeper Hassan Sunny to thank as he denied an unmarked Yen Tavio with a fingertip save from close range at the other end minutes later.
But there was no denying Tsan-Yuan on 30 minutes, who pounced on a loose ball from a free-kick and struck a sweet first-time volley into the bottom corner for the equaliser.
The two teams went into the break level, but it was Kazuo Kuroda’s charges who went ahead for the first time on the hour mark as Chao-An capitalised on a defensive mix-up to finish into an empty net.
The Lions regrouped and could have levelled matters, but substitute Hafiz Sujad first fired straight at Yu-Hung in the 69th minute before Madhu Mohana’s long throw was headed wide by Safuwan at the near post a minute later.
Singapore threw everything at the Chinese Taipei defence in the closing stages of the tie, even pushing defender Irfan Fandi into attack as they sought an equaliser, but it came to naught as they succumbed to their first defeat of the qualifying campaign.
Reflecting on the loss, Singapore Head Coach V. Sundram Moorthy felt that his side deserved a point from the encounter.
“I felt that it was a rather even game tonight,” he shared.
“The boys tried their best and I wouldn’t say they were complacent. There are no easy games in international football – this is an important lesson learned that we need to work extra to get points.
“A draw would have been a better result, but that’s football. We take responsibility and move on. We wanted to win this game so that we can be in a good position, but we now need to pick ourselves up and prepare for our next home game (against Turkmenistan in September).”
Singapore will next face two-time FIFA World Cup winners Argentina in an international friendly at the National Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub on Tuesday, 13 June. Kick-off is at 8pm.