Lions crash back to earth in 0-1

Indonesia's Andik Vermansah (not pictured) scores past Singapore's Mohamad Izwan Mahbud as Indonesia's Irfan Haarys Bachdim (L) and Singapore's Muhammad Safuwan Baharudin (R) look on during their AFF Suzuki Cup Group B soccer match in Kuala Lumpur November 28, 2012.

SINGAPORE - Singapore's hopes of qualifying for the AFF Suzuki Cup semi-finals took a tumble in Kuala Lumpur last night, as they lost 0-1 to Indonesia.

After opening their campaign with a superb 3-0 win over Malaysia, the Lions were brought back to earth with a thud, as they struggled to impose themselves on the Indonesians, as they did against the hosts.

They lost Irwan Shah for the last 25 minutes of the match at Bukit Jalil National Stadium, as the left-back was sent off for two bookable offences.

With first-choice left-back Shaiful Esah already down with injury, coach Raddy Avramovic was forced to move right-back Daniel Bennett to the left, while midfielder Shi Jiayi pulled back as an emergency right-back.

Down to 10 men, they held on until the 87th minute, when substitute Andik Vermansah's free kick from the left looped over Lions goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud and into the net.

The result meant that the Lions must win their final Group B match against Laos to assure themselves of qualification.

Both sides started nervously, with the closest either side came to scoring being long-range attempts. In the 22nd minute, Vendry Mofu tested Izwan Mahbud with a low drive that Izwan just managed to palm away.

Three minutes later, it was Shahdan Sulaiman whose long-range screamer forced an equally good save from Indonesian custodian Wahyu Tri-Nugroho.

The match continued to be a cagey affair in the second half, but the Lions came closest when Aleksandar Duric headed against the crossbar in the 81st minute.

hankeong@sph.com.sg


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