Singapore to meet Indonesia; Thais face Malaysia, Vietnam

Hosts Singapore’s hopes of advancing to the semi-finals of the 2015 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games were handed a boost on Wednesday after they were handed a fairly favourable draw.

Seeded as hosts for the Under-23 tournament, the Lions were drawn in Group A alongside Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Philippines.

With only the top two progressing to the last four, it looks like Singapore will be battling for qualification with the Indonesians and Myanmar.

Nonetheless, Cambodia will be confident in their prospects having recorded a 2-1 win over Singapore just last month, while Philippines have taken huge strides in recent years and are now considered a legitimate threat in the region.

But it appears most of the drama will come in Group B after defending champions Thailand were pitted against 2011 winners Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei Darussalam and Timor-Leste.

Under Kiatisuk Senamuang, who also guided the senior team to victory at the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup, the Thais are favourites to finish top with Malaysia and Vietnam expected to battle it out for the second qualifying berth.

However, with the likes of Soukaphone Vongchiengkham and Ketsada Souksavanh to call upon, Laos could just spring an upset or two along the way.

2015 Southeast Asian Games Draw

Group A: Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Philippines

Group B: Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei Darussalam, Timor-Leste

Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia to meet; Lions set for Japan duel

Three of Southeast Asia’s traditional heavyweights – Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia – will face off in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers are they were all drawn in Group F on Tuesday.

The draw for the second round of qualification took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and saw a total of ten teams from Southeast Asia find out their path to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which will see each of them play eight matches from June to next March.

Apart from the World Cup, the qualifiers will also double up for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, which means Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia all stand an excellent chance of progressing to the continent’s biggest tournament.

Although Iraq are favourites to finish top of Group F, the trio of Southeast Asian countries will all fancy their prospects of fighting it out for second place, given the remaining team is minnows Chinese Taipei.

Over in Group E, Singapore and Cambodia both face a tricky route to the next round after being pitted against Asian giants Japan, Syria and Afghanistan.

Malaysia find themselves in Group A along with regional rivals Timor-Leste, although they will be aware they will have to get a result against either United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia or Palestine to have any chance of advancing to the Asian Cup.

Neighbours Myanmar and Laos will meet in Group G along with Korea Republic, Kuwait and Lebanon, while Philippines face Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Korea DPR and Yemen in Group H.

2018 FIFA World Cup Second Round Qualifying Draw

Group A: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Timor Leste, Malaysia

Group B: Australia, Jordan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh

Group C: China, Qatar, Maldives, Bhutan, Hong Kong

Group D: Iran, Oman, India, Turkmenistan, Guam

Group E: Japan, Syria, Afghanistan, Singapore, Cambodia

Group F: Iraq, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Chinese Taipei

Group G: Korea Republic, Kuwait, Lebanon, Myanmar, Laos

Group H: Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Philippines, Korea DPR, Yemen

Singapore U-23s handed shock defeat by Cambodia U-22s

Singapore Under-23’s preparations for the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games were handed a real blow on Thursday after they were beaten 3-1 by Cambodia Under-22.

The Lions got off to a dream start at the Jalan Besar Stadium when they took the lead after just two minutes; Sahil Suhaimi beating the offside trap to latch onto Shahfiq Ghani’s visionary over-the-top pass before emphatically firing into the back of the net.

However, the visitors shot themselves in the foot a minute before the break when Shakir Hamzah was too casual inside his own area and lost possession to Phanny Y Ratha, who made no mistake in firing past an exposed Syazwan Buhari.

Things got from bad to worse for the hosts in the 67th minute when they conceded a penalty – and were also reduced to ten men – after Shakir Hamzah committed a last-man foul Prak Mony Udom, who picked himself up and slotted the resultant spot-kick into the bottom corner.

And in the 72nd minute, the Royal Khmers wrapped up the win when Samoeun Pidor broke free inside the box after an incisive pass from Mony Udom, before coolly finishing past Syazwan.

To add insult to injury, Singapore finished the game with nine men when Sheikh Abdul Hadi was also shown a straight red for an off-the-ball altercation with an opponent.

Speaking after the game, Singapore U-23 boss Aide Iskandar admitted Thursday’s defeat was disappointing but called for patience ahead of the upcoming SEA Games.

“We can have no excuses,” he said. “Today’s [Thursday’s] performance was not good enough.

“The penalty was the turning point at 1-1, but we have to accept it. It was never going to be easy going a goal down and a man down from that penalty, but give credit to Cambodia – they came with a game plan and it worked.

“For me, the fans have every right to shout whatever they want to, but they have to realise this is not the real tournament yet.

“I have to apologise to the fans who came down and were disappointed. But rest assured we are working hard to make sure we have a good SEA Games.

“I’m still committed and I am confident the boys will put on a good showing.”

Meanwhile, Cambodia boss Lee Tae-hoon was pleased with his charges even though he feels they were a bit fortunate on the night.

“I told my players to just play with confidence,” the South Korean said. “They worked very hard and they followed instructions well.

“I think we got the three goals because Singapore made mistakes so I think we got quite lucky.”

Singapore U-23: Syazwan Buhari, Fadli Kamis (Al-Qaasimy Rahman 60’), Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Shakir Hamzah, Farhan Rahmat (Safirul Sulaiman 60’), M. Anumanthan (Pravin Gunasegaran 90’), Amirul Adli (Shamil Sharif 53’, Taufiq Muqminin 78’), Adam Swandi (Shameer Aziq 51’), Shahfiq Ghani (Amy Recha 68’), Iqbal Hussain (Christopher van Huizen 53’), Sahil Suhaimi (Irfan Fandi 51’).

Cambodia U-22: Prak Mony Phirun, San Thideth (Ngoy Srin 31’), Nub Tola (Chheng Meng 73’), Nen Sothearoth (Ly Arifin 84’), Prak Chanratana, Moung Makara (Samoeun Pidor 61’), Hoy Phallin (Soeuy Visal 54’), Ol Ravy (Sary Matnorotin 25’, Op Kamol 87’), Rous Samoeun, Phanny Y Ratha (Tit Dina 73’), Chan Vathanaka (Prak Mony Udom 61’).

Cambodia, Timor-Leste through to second round; Brunei ousted

Cambodia are through to the second round of qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup after a 1-1 draw with Macau on Tuesday was enough to send them through 4-1 on aggregate.

Following a 3-0 win over Macau in last Friday’s first leg, the Royal Khmers only need to avoid defeat at the Macau Olympic Complex to guarantee their place in the next round.

However, just for good measure, they took the lead two minutes before the half-hour mark when Thierry Chantha Bin netted his first goal in international colours.

Macau did equalise on the night in the 52nd minute when Leong Ka Hang netted from the penalty spot but it was little more than a consolation, as the Cambodians held out to advance.

The other Southeast Asian side that will be joining them in the second round are Timor-Leste¸who beat Mongolia 1-0 at the MFF Football Centre to record a 5-1 aggregate triumph.

The only goal of the game arrived after just nine minutes Patrick Fabiano found the back of the net, which ultimately proved enough to seal their place in the next stage.

However, there was no such joy for Brunei Darussalam as they were eliminated by Chinese Taipei 2-1 on aggregate following a 2-0 defeat at the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium.

Despite leading 1-0 from last Friday’s first leg, Tebuan fell behind in the 37th minute through a Wang Rui strike, before Chu En-le added a second eight minutes after halftime to win it for the visitors.

Brunei claim historic triumph; wins for Cambodia, Timor-Leste

Brunei Darussalam claimed their first-ever win in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers on Thursday after beating Chinese Taipei 1-0 in the first leg of their first-round clash.

The only goal of the game at the National Stadium in Kaohsiung arrived in the 36th minute and was credited to Adi Said, although he appeared to make little contact with Awangku Fakharrazi’s right-wing cross which sailed all the way past Chin Yu-hung.

The victory puts in a good position to qualify for the group stage in the second round, as long as they avoid defeat in next Tuesday’s second leg.

Over at the Army Stadium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia also took a big step towards advancing to the next round when they beat Macau 3-0.

Chan Vathanaka fired the Angkor Warriors ahead in the 64th minute when the opposition defence’s failure to clear their lines allowed him to pounce on a loose ball, and skip past Ho Man Fai before firing into the unguarded net.

Vathanaka then doubled his and his team’s tally nine minutes from time when he lined up a freekick on the edge of the box, and curled a brilliant effort in off the far post.

And in the fourth minute of injury-time, Khoun Laboravy sealed the win for Cambodia after he was left unmarked inside the box, and met Rous Samoeun’s left-wing cross with a deft header into the far corner.

Timor-Leste, the final Southeast Asian side involved in Thursday’s qualifiers, were also victorious after beating Mongolia 4-1 at the National Stadium in Dili.

Chiquito do Carmo got the Timorese off to a dream start after netting twice in the opening seven minutes, but they had to wait till the 84th minute to put the result beyond doubt when Rodrigo Silva made it 3-0.

Jairo Neto added a fourth for O Sol Nascente a minute later cap off the rout, although the visitors did manage a consolation effort in the 87th minute through a Batmonkhiin Erkhembayar strike.

Lions head to Suzuki Cup on back of Cambodia win

Singapore finalised their preparations for the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup on Monday evening with a 4-2 friendly win over Cambodia at the Yishun Stadium.

The Lions took the lead after nine minutes when Shahril Ishak found space down the right and delivered an inch-perfect cross to Khairul Amri, who made no mistake in planting a first-time volley into the back of the net.

But in the 27th minute, Cambodian pulled level after Prak Mony Udom did brilliantly to break free down the right before chipping a cross to Khoun Laboravy, who managed to sneak his header over the line despite the best efforts of opposition keeper Hassan Sunny.

It took the hosts just two minutes to reclaim the lead and Shahril was the provider again; holding up play inside the area before cutting the ball for Faris Ramli to drill home from 12 yards.

Nonetheless, the Royal Khmers took less than a minute to equalise again and it was once more through Laboravy, who was left with a simple finish at the back post after freekick had been deflected into his path.

In what proved to be a free-scoring spell, Singapore edged ahead for the third time in the 33rd minute after Shaiful Esah’s excellent 25-yard freekick came back off the post, paving the way for Shahril to coolly slot the rebound in from a narrow angle.

And seven minutes before halftime, Bernd Stange’s charges added a fourth to put themselves firmly in control of proceedings; Safuwan Baharudin reacting quickest after Hariss Harun’s volley had smashed into him and sending a left-footed snapshot into the bottom corner.

The Singaporeans did have their fair share of chances to add to their tally in the second half but failed to find the back of the net, although there will be many positives for Stange to take ahead of their upcoming Suzuki Cup campaign.

The Lions’ bid to be crowned Southeast Asian champions for a fifth time begins on Sunday when they take on Thailand in Group B and they then play Myanmar three days later, before finishing off against arch-rivals Malaysia next Saturday.

Singapore: Hassan Sunny, Ismadi Mukhtar, Baihakki Khaizan, Safuwan Baharudin (Amirul Adli 89’), Shaiful Esah (Shakir Hamzah 70’), Hariss Harun, Shahdan Sulaiman (Zulfahmi Arifin 82’), Faris Ramli, Shahril Ishak, Shahfiq Ghani (Gabriel Quak 76’), Khairul Amri (Sahil Suhaimi 59’).

Cambodia: Sou Yaty, Hong Pheng (Say Piseth 41’), Touch Pancharong, Soeuy Visal (Moul Daravron 90’), Chhin Chhoeun, Ngoy Srin (Sok Chanrasmey 54’), Kouch Sokumpheak, Rous Samoeun, Sos Suhana (Muong Makara 74’), Prak Mony Udom (Nub Tola 74’), Khoun Laboravy (Noun Borey 67’).

Azkals finish AFF preparations with Cambodia triumph

Philippines played out their final warm-up game for the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup on Friday evening and cruised to a 3-0 over Cambodia at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Daisuke Sato got the Azkals on their way in the 14th minute when he was left in space outside the box, and proceeded to unleash a 25-yard rocket that opposition keeper Sou Yaty got a hand to but was just unable to keep out.

Five minutes before the break, the hosts doubled their tally as Manny Ott opened his account for Philippines; netting on the rebound after Phil Younghusband’s initial effort had been saved.

With a comfortable advantage in their possession, the hosts did take their foot off the pedal in the second half but they still managed to finish the game strongly – adding a third in the 90th minute as Younghusband struck his 40th international goal to wrap up the win.

Having reached the semi-finals in the last two editions of the Suzuki Cup, Thomas Dooley’s charges will be looking to repeat the feat this year although it will not be as straightforward as some might imagine.

Although Group B is widely regarded as the “group of death” given it contains defending champions Singapore, three-time winners Thailand, 2010 victors Malaysia and up-and-coming Myanmar, Group A is also expected to pose a number of stern tests to its teams.

Apart from Philippines, hosts Vietnam will be looking to emulate their triumph in 2008, while Indonesia have made quite an impact on the regional stage having reached the final in four previous occasions.

The last team in Group A are Laos, who were impressive in last month’s qualifiers although they ultimately finished the campaign as runners-up after being pipped to top spot by Myanmar.

The Azkals kick off their campaign in Hanoi on November 22 against the Laotians and follow that up with a crunch clash against Indonesia three days later, before finishing up against the hosts on November 28.

Philippines: Patrick Deyto (Tomas Trigo 83’), Simone Rota (Kenshiro Daniels 74’), Amani Aguinaldo, Rob Gier (Juan Luis Guirado 30’), Daisuke Sato, Manny Ott, Martin Steuble (Chris Greatwich 61′), Patrick Reichelt (Paul Mulders 46’), Phil Younghusband, Misagh Bahadoran, Mark Hartmann (Simon Greatwich 75’).

Cambodia: Sou Yaty, Hong Pheng, Sok Sovan, Say Piseth, Soeuy Visal, Ngoy Srin, Sos Suhana, Kouch Sokumpheak, Rous Samoeun, Prak Mony Udom, Khoun Laboravy.