SINGAPORE: It was a tough reality check for new Lions head coach Tatsuma Yoshida as his side were beaten 2-1 by Myanmar in an international friendly at the Singapore Sports Hub on Tuesday (Jun 11).
Winger Gabriel Quak’s second goal in as many games looked to have been enough for a draw for the Lions, but a double from striker Kyaw Ko Ko gave Myanmar the win and handed Yoshida his first loss as head coach.
In Yoshida’s first game in charge on Saturday, the 160th ranked Lions beat Solomon Islands (139th) 4-3, courtesy of goals from Faris Ramli, Shahdan Sulaiman, Quak and Hariss Harun.
Backed by a vociferous Myanmar crowd, the away side, one place behind the Solomon Islands in the rankings, took the lead as early as the 5th minute when striker Kyaw finished tidily into the bottom corner after good work on the left from Myanmar.
But the Lions fought their way back into the game and found the net close to 20 minutes later. A chipped through ball from Huzaifah Aziz found Quak, who tucked home a finish at the second time of asking.
The goal seemed to stir the home side into action, with Quak and Irwan Shah posing problems for their opponents with their neat interplay.
The Singapore side, which only contained five of the last game’s starting 11, fashioned the first chance of the second half. Midfielder M Anumanthan attempted a piledriver from outside the box, only to blaze the shot over.
But some slack defending from the Lions in the 67th minute played Kyaw onside, and he made no mistake with a calm finish past Lions’ goalkeeper Hassan Sunny.
Yoshida threw on Hariss, Amri and Shahdan in an attempt to change the game, and veteran Amri almost made an instant impact, but his header was directed just over.
With three minutes to go, the final chance of the game fell the way to Shahdan, but he could only drill a free kick just wide.
Speaking at a post-match press conference, Yoshida said that he was disappointed by the result but was keen to point out the positives of the performance.
“Our boys fought well and fought hard,” said the Japanese coach. “We had more confidence than in the first match ... but didn’t get much shots in the opponents penalty box.
“Some players were changed, (but) they could show they are ready and can play in our concept.”
But he also admitted that the Lions need to keep their concentration throughout the game.
“Our boys sometimes switch off but in the first half for 40 minutes, they played (well),” he added. “But, in the first five minutes, we were a little bit rushed.”