14 December 2013

Lions make wasteful Brunei pay

Saturday, December 14, 2013
BRUNEI have been made to pay dearly for their inability to score here at the SEA Games, last night's 2-0 loss to Singapore ending any slim hopes they had of a place in the semi-final.
Singapore now top the group with seven points from three games and look certain to go through, though Brunei's fate was already decided before kick-off when defending champions Malaysia beat Laos 4-1 in the day's earlier game after a Ahmad Hazwan Bakri hat-trick gave them their second win in as many games.
Vietnam are third and Laos fourth in the group, with Brunei propping the table.
Brunei's third loss of the tournament means they are firmly out of the running to progress to the last-four, and even if they had beaten Singapore, their poor goal differential — at 11, it is the worst in the competition — means their campaign is destined to end at the group stage.
They haven't scored a single goal in three games, and when asked about whether the team has specific drills for shooting and finishing, Brunei's coach wasn't able to provide a proper answer. “The players' ability....,” Kwon Oh-son trailed off during the post-match press conference.
Adi Said, especially from set-pieces, Azwan Ali Rahman and Mohd Mazazi Mazlan were all guilty of missing chances last night, and there is no way this team deserves a place in the last-four if their players can't even test the goalkeeper in a one-one-one situation, of which there have been several in the 7-0 loss to Vietnam and 2-0 defeat to Malaysia.
Brunei's reliance on DPMM FC duo Adi and Azwan cannot be over emphasised, but there is only so much the duo can do – especially with the team passing the ball the way they are.
Adi lacked support from his teammates on the attack while Azwan, who is playing through an injured hip, has not delivered on the passing game he is known for.
The country's defence and inability to clear their lines and play out from the back means the team has been under pressure for most of the tournament, especially with them playing such a high line.
Brunei's goalkeeper Ak Omar Aqamuddin Pg Sallehuddin has been his team's saviour during numerous occasions throughout the competition at the Zeyar Thiri Football Stadium, coming up with two point-blank saves late in last night's game to prevent the Singaporeans from adding gloss on the scoreline.
Brunei eventually ended the match with 10-men after Mohammad Kahiri Shame Suhami was shown a straight red off for an off-the-ball challenge just before the hour-mark, and it was all over after that.
Singapore captain Hariss Harun volleyed home the opener in the 35th minute after connecting on a poor clearance at the edge of the box but Azwan was poised to equalise five minutes later when Singapore gifted him possession.
He could have easily dribbled the ball into the box but took a hasty shot that was wide off the mark.
It was nearly 2-0 five minutes after the restart when Muhammad Fariz Ramli hit the crossbar but Singapore got the breather they deserved seconds later when Adi lost the ball and the team was pressing high up the pitch.
Singapore goalkeeper Muhammad Izwan Mahbud passed the ball to Muhammad Zulfahmi Mohd Arifin, who hit a long ball over the top to Sahil Suhaimi – who scored his third goal of the tournament after beating two markers and firing past Ak Omar.
Despite not beating Brunei by a larger margin, Singapore's coach Aide Iskandar was satisfied with the result.
“It wasn't a problem for me playing against 10-men and not scoring more... What's important is the three points,” he said.
“Brunei defending the way they did made it hard for us to play.
“They sat back and were compact and we'll have to work on a way to convert chances in the future,” he added.
Brunei close their campaign against Laos on Tuesday, where converting chances will be the name of the game.
The Brunei Times

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