The Monkey: Thailand 0 Singapore 0

Posted on August 25, 2011


The Monkey hopped onto an internet stream to catch Thailand and Singapore play out a 0-0 draw at the Rajamangala Stadium. Here are the notes he scribbled:

1. A draw was a fair result. Singapore had a legitimate goal wrongly ruled out for offside in the 55th minute. Shi Jiayi’s sweet ball split the Thai defence, Aleksandar Duric drew the keeper before squaring for Shahril Ishak to tap in, only for the Lions to be denied by the assistant referee’s flag. Replays showed though that Shahril was clearly behind Duric when the pass was made.

Despite that, the hosts Thailand had a larger share of the chances. Chatree Chimtalae should have made the most of Izwan Mahbud dropping the ball at his feet in the 39th minute, while Suttinum Phukhom headed wide when a second half corner had Lionel Lewis stranded.

Joe Five-yards Sarayoot Chaikamdee showed himself to be mortal from that distance in the 76th minute, completely miskicking Suchao Nutnum’s cross when he was left alone to finish. Four minutes from time Sarayoot reacted quickest to a loose ball in the box, but Lionel pulled off a smart save.

Singapore generally kept their shape well and Daniel Bennett and Safuwan Baharudin in the centre of defence had fine games. The absence of Hariss Harun sucked a lot of tempo and energy from Singapore’s midfield, even as Isa Halim put in a manful shift.

2. Lionel Lewis may have the edge for Kunming. Singapore coach Radojko Avramovic kept faith in rookie keeper Izwan Mahbud after his assured display in the 1-1 draw with Malaysia. Izwan had little to trouble him in the first half against Thailand, except for a fumble of what should have been a routine catch in the 39th minute. Thankfully though Chatree blazed over.

The second half saw the entry of Lionel Lewis, the 2004 Tiger Cup’s MVP. Returning from a groin injury, Lionel failed to get a hand to a corner in the 64th minute and was grateful to see Suttinum head wide.

The Home United man showed his worth though in the closing stages, tipping a dipping shot over the bar and reacting well to save Sarayoot’s stabbed effort. If chosen for the China game, Lionel will need to be more assertive in the box. His difficulty in taking goalkicks due to injury is also a concern.

3. Who played himself into contention? In Kunming, Avramovic is likely to go with the bulk of the team that played Malaysia. One enforced change could be that of Hariss Harun, if he does not get released from national service. His replacement last night Isa Halim put in the sort of performance you’d expect from the Home United man – covering plenty of ground and putting in challenges.

Avramovic may also consider Shukor Zailan, a second half entrant at the Rajamangala despite not being a regular for Tampines Rovers. Shukor offers a wide range of passing, but does not have Isa’s defensive bite.

As for the other players that came in against Thailand – Shahdan Sulaiman needs time and exposure to replicate his S.League form on the international stage, Zulfahmi Arifin may in time threaten captain Shahril Ishak’s place and Hafiz Rahim looks a decent option as a substitute.

Along with Ruzaini Zainal, these young guns showed plenty of desire to attack the Thai defence in the closing stages. Still, it was noticeable that Singapore’s ability to hold possession dropped in the second half without the experienced heads of Mustafic Fahrudin and Shi Jiayi.

4. The Thais still remember Ah Long. The Thai commentators mentioned Noh Alam Shah at least twice last night, even though the Arema Malang striker is no longer in the Lions squad. Perhaps they remember his goal against Thailand in the first leg of the 2007 AFF championship final. No mention though of Khairul Amri – perhaps Amri’s goal in the second leg at the Suphachalasai Stadium is too painful to recall for the Thais.