08 June 2015

Second-string national team go down to Singapore

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A SECOND-STRING national football team went down 5-1 to Singapore in an international friendly yesterday, the first time the two sides had met since 1990.
Playing without any DPMM FC players, Brunei trailed 3-1 heading into the break at the Jurong East Stadium in Singapore, where the gulf in class was evident for all to see in a game that offered valuable FIFA ranking points. The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) organised the friendly as part of the team's preparation for their World Cup qualifier against Cambodia (Thursday) and Japan (June 16). They will also face Afghanistan and Syria.
Most of the players who laced up yesterday afternoon for the hosts were from recently crowned Malaysian FA Cup champions Lions XII while the rest were made up of players from various Singapore and Malaysia league clubs.
The visitors, made up of players from the national league, could not match experience like that.
“These are the best club players in Brunei so it was a good opportunity for them to play and see how they compare to players at the international level,” said national coach Mike Wong, a Singaporean who coached many of yesterday's opponents during his time as a FAS youth coach.
“They (Singapore) are professionals and they play faster, think faster, make decisions faster, and were playing at a different intensity,” he explained. Indeed, Singapore were simply technically better, faster and more physical - and the scoreline indicated as much.
Brunei trailed after six minutes when Fazrul Nawaz sent in a cross from the right that was headed in by Khairul Amri.
It was 2-0 when Hariss Harun latched onto a ball Brunei's defence failed to clear and launched a shot from outside the box which found the back of the net in the 36th minute.
A mix-up in defence between Madhu Mohana and goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud allowed Abd Muiz Sisa to steal a pass from the glovesman to defender and make it 2-1 in the 41st minute, but Shaiful Esah restored Singapore's lead three minutes later after beating Mohamad Nazri Hj Hassan inside the box and shooting through the legs of Brunei goalkeeper Mohd Fakhrul Zulhazmi Yussof.
Although Fakhrul had an outstanding game and produced several key saves, most notably from substitute Gabriel Quak late in the game, there was little he could do to keep out a fierce free-kick from Khairul in the 55th minute. Fazrul netted again in the 64th minute after a lob inside the box when Hj Mohammad Yusof cleared a ball to his feet, and the hosts were largely on cruise control after that.
After beating Bangladesh 2-1 in another pre-World Cup friendly last month, Singapore head coach Bernd Stange declared his team are now ready for their next step in their bid to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
“All 22 players are ready, have no injuries and are in good spirits,” said Stange, who was assisted on the bench by Singapore football legends Fandi Ahmad and V Sundramoorthy – current head coaches of Lions XII and Tampines Rovers respectively.
“In the past we've had two or three new players every game, but now there is stability and consistency. It's good to see how we move the ball around but we need to work on our build up play... Start attacks from the goalkeeper and not use long balls,” he added.

The Brunei Times

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