Singapore crash out of AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 after heavy defeat to Malaysia

The Lions, who needed only a draw to advance from the group stage, lost 4-1.

Kenneth Tan

Published: 3 January 2023, 11:32 PM

Singapore crashed out of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Mitsubishi Electric Cup after a  4-1 defeat to neighbours Malaysia on Tuesday (Jan 3) night. 

Heading into the game following a 0-0 draw against Vietnam four days ago, the Lions needed only a draw to make it past the group stages. 

But those hopes were quickly extinguished by the hosts, who claimed a convincing victory in front of a packed Bukit Jalil Stadium. 

Right from the start, Malaysia – keeping true to head coach Kim Pan-gon’s promise of playing attacking football – piled on the pressure on Singapore. Goalkeeper Hassan Sunny was kept busy early on, forced into action twice to deny Malaysia’s Ruventhiran Vengadesan and Fasial Halim. 

Malaysia were perhaps lucky to not have a man sent off midway through the first half, when their captain Safawi Rasid went unpunished for lashing out at Shakir Hamzah as they tussled for the ball. 

To rub salt into Singapore’s wounds, Safawi would go on to play an integral role in the Tigers’ opening goal in the 35th minute. It was his inch-perfect cross that allowed Darren Lok to plant an emphatic header into the back of the net. 

Singapore coach Takayuki Nishigaya reacted at the break by bringing on Shawal Anuar to add more bite to the attack, but Malaysia picked up where they left off by scoring two quick-fire goals to extend their lead to 3-0. 

Shawal’s failure to get Hariss Harun’s clearance under control led to Stuart Wilkin stealing in to lash in an opportunistic shot from 35m out in the 52nd minute, despite Hassan’s best efforts to keep it out. 

The English-born midfielder did it again two minutes later, as he took advantage of another Singapore defensive mistake to curl home a neat left-footed drive in the box after being teed up by Safawi. 

That left a mountain to climb for the Lions and they valiantly tried to find a response, but found the Malaysian defence led by Singapore-born Dominic Tan a hard one to breach. 

Substitute Faris Ramli did pull one back for Singapore in the 85th minute, with Amy Recha the provider. Amy himself went close a minute later, as he forced Malaysia’s Syihan Hazmi into a save. 

But another defensive lapse at the back allowed Malaysia to net a fourth – and seal victory – in the 88th minute, with Argentine-born Sergio Aguero – not to be confused with the former Manchester City legendary striker –  scoring a well-placed finish from the edge of the box. 

The victory meant Malaysia finished Group B runners-up and will face Thailand in the last four, while Vietnam – who topped the group after a concurrent 3-0 win over Myanmar – will play Indonesia in the other semi-final tie. 

Singapore’s wait for a fifth AFF crown will go on to the next edition. 

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