Singapore hold off Myanmar for victorious start to AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 campaign

Ilhan Fandi, Shah Shahiran and Shawal Anuar scored for the Lions.

Kenneth Tan

Published: 24 December 2022, 9:25 PM

The Singapore men’s national team held off 10-man Myanmar to start their ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 campaign with a win on Christmas Eve.

Goals from Ilhan Fandi, Shah Shahiran and Shawal Anuar helped the Lions prevail 3-2 in a highly-entertaining and, at times, tempestuous Group B affair. Muang Muang Lwin scored a brace for the visitors, who had Nanda Kyaw sent off late on for retaliating to a challenge from Shah. 

At the Jalan Besar Stadium’s artificial surface, Singapore started the stronger of the two sides. The Lions almost took the lead after six minutes when Ilhan, set free by Shawal, put the ball just over the bar. 

Instead of imposing themselves, the Lions allowed Myanmar to seize the initiative and in the 34th minute found themselves behind.

Captain Hariss Harun lost the ball in Myanmar’s half, allowing Aung Kaung Mann to quickly send Maung Lwin through. The forward got the better of the chasing Shakir Hamzah, before slotting past goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam with ease. 

Antoine Hey’s side went close on another couple of occasions to double their lead later. Muang Lwin’s effort from a tight angle was denied by Zaiful, while Kuang Mann scuffed wide from eight yards out. 

There was a worrying moment for Singapore in the 42nd minute when Ilhan looked to have been knocked out cold, after being punched in the face by Myanmar goalkeeper Myo Min Latt as the duo competed for the ball in mid-air. 

The 20-year-old – who recently signed for Belgium second-division side KMSK Deinze – somehow recovered and went on to score the equaliser on the stroke of half-time. Meeting Christopher van Huizen’s deep cross from the left, Ilhan directed a superb header into the bottom corner. 

It didn’t take long for Singapore to surge ahead, as Shah scored just minutes into the second half with an effort from just outside the box. Goalkeeper Myo Min Latt got his hand to the ball but, instead of palming it wide, pushed it into his own goal. 

Much of the second half was played at helter-skelter pace as Myanmar refused to back down and put the Singapore goal under siege. They found a deserved equaliser on 66 minutes, with Maung Lwin capitalising on a botched clearance from Ryhan Stewart to net his second of the night. 

Shawal caught the Myanmar defence napping minutes later to put Singapore ahead once again. Latching onto a long punt by Zaiful, the new Lion City Sailors forward lashed a powerful volley in off the post, sending the home fans into delight. 

Myanmar would not back down though. Despite Nanda Kyaw’s sending off – he appeared to have threw a punch at Shah after being left unimpressed with the challenge – Myanmar continue piling on the pressure. 

Singapore would survive a couple of close scares though, with Win Naing Tun and Ye Ying Aung both firing just wide, and held on eventually.

The Lions will face Laos away next Tuesday (27 December), before games against Vietnam and Malaysia to wrap up the group stage. 

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