Singapore win third straight match in AFF Suzuki Cup 2020
The Lions have also secured a spot in the semi-finals, the first time since 2012 they have done so.
Singapore beat Timor Leste 2-0 at the National Stadium to make it three wins from three matches at the AFF Suzuki Cup.
It is the first time in almost 13 years – since the 2008 AFF Suzuki Cup – that the Lions have won three straight competitive matches. An early goal from Adam Swandi set the hosts of the tournament on the way, before Shakir Hamzah wrapped up victory in the second half.
The match also marked the 100th appearance for versatile veteran Safuwan Baharudin, who is the 14th Singaporean to achieve the distinction.
The Lions also went into the game against Timor Leste knowing that qualification for the semi-finals was secured, following Thailand’s 2-1 win over the Philippines earlier.
It means that the match against Thailand on Saturday will see the winner take top spot in Group A. More crucially, the winner of the match will likely avoid Vietnam, the top-ranked team in the tournament.
Singapore, however, could end up rueing their lethargic performance against Timor Leste, particularly in the first half.
After Adam – given his first start of the tournament – opened the scoring with a tidy side-footed finish from a clever back heel pass from Song Uiyoung, the Lions seemingly took their foot off the pedal and allowed Timor Leste to grow into the game.
The Lions needed Hassan Sunny to come to their rescue, with the goalkeeper pulling off a superb stop with his right foot to deny Paulo Gali. Timor Leste continued to threaten, although some poor decision-making in the final third meant that Singapore were kept relatively safe.
Shakir Hamzah eventually extended the lead in the 70th minute, after Timor Leste failed to clear their lines from a Shahdan Sulaiman’s freekick. Safuwan managed to retrieve the ball and set up Shakir for the simplest of finishes inside the box.
Singapore could perhaps take comfort that they hardly needed to hit top gear against Timor Leste.
But the 2-0 result meant that anything less than a win against Thailand will see the Lions finishing second instead, setting up a potential matchup with Vietnam – a team Singapore haven’t beaten since 1998.