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 By Paul Murphy

Thailand beat Singapore with Suttinan Phuk-Hom and Pokkhao Anan goals

Thailand coach Kiatisuk Senamuang saw his side defeat Singapore 2-0.

Thailand struck late to claim a 2-0 victory over Singapore after a difficult week for the visiting Lions.

Suttinan Phuk-Hom and Pokkhao Anan were the heroes as they struck in the last five minutes to give the Thais a much-needed lift after a disappointing King's Cup campaign in February.

However, the Lions put in a committed performance in a match overshadowed by the passing of Lee Kuan Yew, who died on Monday.

The original purpose of this friendly was to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries but there was a sombre start to the evening.

While speeches were delivered to mark the occasion, Singapore's players and coaches wore specially printed T-shirts as a mark of respect for their former Prime Minister and a minute's silence was held before the game, with both sides wearing black armbands.

Already without star midfielders Chanathip Songkrasin and Charyl Chappuis, Thai coach Kiatisuk Senamuang sprung a surprise by starting without striker Teerasil Dangda and regular goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan. As expected, the visitors' regular goalkeeper also missed out, with Thailand-based Hassan Sunny yet to fully recover from a shoulder injury.

Singapore made the brighter start in front of a disappointing crowd in Nakhon Ratchasima but the Thais created the first chance when Jakkapan Pornsai's through ball found Pokkhao in the box. The midfielder's weak shot from an angle was easily gathered by Izwan Mahbud in Singapore's goal.

The home side threatened again in the 14th minute after Adisak Kraisorn was fouled on the edge of the box. Jakkapan stepped up and curled the free kick just wide.

Bernd Stange's Singapore were unable to find a way past Thailand. Photo credit: Football Association of Singapore.

The away side were next to fashion a chance when Safuwan Baharudin seized on a loose ball and surged into the Thai penalty area. But Chanin Sae-Eae saved bravely at his feet and then again from Gabriel Quak. The visitors soon had another opportunity when Khairul Amri whipped in a cross from the left but Sahil Suhaimi headed over.

With half-an-hour gone, Thai captain Theeraton Bunmathan launched a long ball into the Singapore penalty box. Prakit Deeprom set himself to shoot but Afiq Yunos denied him with a saving challenge. Unfortunately, the defender injured himself and was replaced by Hafiz Sujad.

There were few more opportunities before the break, but the home side should have taken the lead in the first minute of the second half. Putthinan Wannasri swung in an excellent cross from the right but Adisak headed wide from close range, with no defenders near him.

The BEC Tero striker came close again minutes later. Jakkapan and Pokkhao opened up the visitors before Adisak's powerful shot hit the side-netting.

With the Thais becoming increasingly dominant, a series of substitutions started and one of the replacements, Sarach Yooyen, almost made an immediate impact when he shot wide from Adisak's cutback.

Play then became scrappy and punctuated by a series of fouls before the War Elephants came close with just over 15 minutes remaining. Adisak laid the ball back for Theeraton and the Thai skipper's fierce strike from distance was well saved by Mahbud.

With time running out, Faris Ramli almost gave the Lions the lead against the run of play when he just failed to get his foot to Amri's cross. From the resulting corner, Safuwan found space for a powerful header but it was straight at Chanin.

But the Thais finally found the net with less than five minutes left on the clock. Theeraton sent in a free kick from just inside the Singapore half and Suttinan Phuk-Hom stole in behind the visitors' defence and put the ball in with his shoulder.

And the clincher came in stoppage time when substitute Anuwat Noicheunpan found Pokkhao through on goal and the midfielder lobbed Mahbud.

The Lions had defended resiliently in difficult circumstances but Thailand will be delighted to have secured this late win.

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