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Singapore hold Indonesia to 1-1 draw in first leg of AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final

Singapore hold Indonesia to 1-1 draw in first leg of AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final

Singapore's Irfan Fandi makes a tackle during the AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final between Singapore and Indonesia on Dec 22, 2021. (Photo: CNA/Matthew Mohan)

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s first appearance in an AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final after nine years ended in a 1–1 first leg draw with Indonesia at the National Stadium on Wednesday (Dec 22).

An early 28th minute goal by Witan Sulaeman put the away side ahead in a largely even encounter, before Ikhsan Fandi equalised midway through the second half.

Both sides started the game well, but Indonesia began to exert more pressure 10 minutes in as the Lions were forced into a series of clearances.

First it was defender Safuwan Baharudin with a header from an inswinging cross, then Zulfahmi Arifin had to hook the ball away from the resultant corner.

Several minutes later, striker Ikhsan had his first sight of goal but his shot only found the side netting.

Singapore then had the best chance of the game as a looping Safuwan header was tipped over superbly by Indonesia goalkeeper Nadeo Winata.

But Indonesia then carved out a chance of their own and were rewarded with a goal as Witan Sulaeman fired past Hassan Sunny after a excellent combination play from the right.

The away side almost doubled their lead after Zulfahmi was bundled off the ball in a dangerous area but Indonesia could not capitalise against a brave Hassan.

Tatsuma would make a change at half-time as Zulfahmi was taken off, with midfielder M Anumanthan taking his place. Skipper Hariss would drop into central defence, while Anumanthan would play in the middle of the park.

"I told them (the team) at half-time that you must play ... don't escape, don't hesitate. You have do try to show your full potential," said Yoshida at a post-match press conference.

"Hariss dropped in between Safuwan and Irfan, as a distributor. I wanted to try to start our building up from him."

And the changes looked to have taken effect as the Lions started the second half in excellent fashion, with Ikhsan proved a thorn in the side of the Indonesian defence.

First he would rob a defender of possession and drill a deflected shot wide in the 49th minute before flicking a header wide minutes later.

Singapore continued to crank up the heat with Faris Ramli beating a couple of players with a mazy run but he would fire high and wide at the hour mark.

Faris would come even closer again in the 64th minute, but after turning a defender, he could only bend the ball wide.

But the Lions’ pressure would eventually pay off as a Faris through ball fed Ikhsan who would confidently fire in an equaliser in the 70th minute.

And Yoshida’s men almost took the lead soon after the width of the post denied a Safuwan header.

Substitute Amy Recha would also come close with the clock winding down but Winata would make a flying stop.

"This result was not very good, but not bad for us," said Yoshida. "The boys equalised, they didn't give up."

The Lions will get a chance to progress to the final when they face Indonesia for the second leg on Saturday.

The Lions had finished second in Group A after wins over Myanmar, Philippines and Timor Leste and a loss to group leaders Thailand.

Indonesia had topped Group B on goal difference ahead of defending champions Vietnam.

Vietnam will face the Thais in the first leg of their semi-final on Thursday.

Source: CNA/nh(zl)

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