Singapore held by Philippines in Suzuki Cup opener
(Channel News Asia, 2 Dec 2010)
By Patwant Singh
HANOI: Singapore started their ASEAN Football Federation (AFF Suzuki Cup) with a 1-1 draw against Philippines in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Three-time winners, Singapore, had plenty of possession and goal-scoring opportunities but lacked the finishing touch to put the match beyond Philippines.
Despite Singapore controlling majority of the possession, Philippines still had the occasional chance at the Singapore goal.
The Lions finally broke the deadlock in the second half with Aleksandar Duric making it 1-0 with a fine header from Noh Alam Shah’s cross.
The Lions missed several chances to extend their lead and were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal.
Philippines’ Chris Greatwitch equalised in injury time to end the match 1-1 after some slack defending from the Lions.
Singapore next plays Myanmar in their second Group B match on Sunday.
In case you are not aware, defending champions Vietnam hammered Myanmar 7-1 in the other group game.
And this is what I fear could subsequently happen:
The Lions, feeling disappointed by their 1-1 draw with the Philippines will suddenly feel encouraged and lifted by Vietnam’s thrashing of Myanmar.
A sense of confidence gradually grows as they start thinking: “Hang on, the result isn’t too bad. It’s not as if we lost. We lost two points but at least we still have a point. And if Myanmar was so poor against Vietnam, then surely we can hammer them as well to make up for this.”
But when the increasingly confident Lions face Myanmar, they still fire blanks and are eventually only able to scrape another frustrating draw while the Philippines are beaten by Vietnam.
Then the Lions get all nervous before their make-or-break game against Vietnam. They enter the packed cauldron with a sense of false bravado but are exposed and eventually well beaten by Vietnam.
Meanwhile, the Philippines beat Myanmar to go through to the next round.
How is this possible?
Well, just remember this – the Philippines had already played three qualifying matches before the group stage. They beat Timor Leste 5-0, drew 2-2 with Laos and 0-0 with Cambodia.
So, in other words, they already have had plenty of opportunity to gel as a team. And as such, I do expect them to get stronger, better and harder to beat as they play more matches.
So who’s to say that they can’t beat Myanmar? Stranger things have happened in football.
I am really, really hoping this nightmare scenario doesn’t come true.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan