SINGAPORE: The Singapore men's football team fell to their first defeat at the SEA Games in Vietnam following a 5-0 loss to Thailand on Monday (May 9).
Thailand dominated much of the possession in the first half as they made continuous forays into Singapore’s half, but the Lions kept a cool head in defence for the opening 20 minutes.
The fancied Thais, who have won SEA Games gold on 16 occasions, were backed by a capacity crowd at the Thien Truong Stadium in Nam Dinh as they looked to bounce back after their shock opening match defeat to Malaysia.
Singapore’s first attack of note came in the 30th minute down the right flank and the resulting corner saw the Thai goalkeeper make a close-range save from Harhys Stewart.
The first half was a cagey affair with few clear-cut chances until it burst into life with five minutes left.
Singapore had a penalty shout waved off by the referee in the 40th minute when Ryhan Stewart was shoved in the 18-yard box. At the other end minutes later, Singapore goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam made a sharp save when he fell low to keep a shot out.
But on the stroke of half-time, Thailand got their breakthrough via Ben Davis, who scored from the spot for his first international goal after being felled by Syahrul Sazali in the penalty box.
Davis, who represented Singapore at youth level, had made news in 2018 when he signed a professional contract with English Premier League club Fulham. This made him the first Singaporean to ink such a deal with a top-tier English side.
However, he was unable to defer his National Service duties, and in 2019, he defaulted on his NS obligations while staying overseas without a valid exit permit.
Later that year, he chose to represent Thailand, the country of his birth.
The second half began pretty much the same way the first period ended, with the Thais looking the more menacing of the two teams.
They doubled their lead in the 47th minute after Harhys Stewart turned a low cross from the byline into his own net. Four minutes later Thailand scored their third through Ekanit Panya after some slick passing and flat-footed defending from the Lions.
Panya got his second and Thailand’s fourth in the 66th minute when he struck a curling shot from inside the penalty box, and 15 minutes later Korawich Tasa scored the fifth after another clever passing move.
The loss was Singapore's heaviest at the SEA Games since losing 8-1 to Burma at the 1971 Southeast Asian Peninsular Games.
Singapore opened their SEA Games campaign with a 2-2 draw with Laos on Saturday, snatching a point in the closing minutes after being two goals down.