Singapore outclassed in SEA Games opener by Myanmar's Aung Thu
Singapore made an ominously poor start to their 2017 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games campaign after a 2-0 loss to Myanmar in the Group A opener at Selayang Stadium, near Kuala Lumpur, on Monday afternoon.
It was an identical result to when the two sides met in the AFC U23 Championship qualifiers a month ago.
Aung Thu scored in both halves to hand a disappointing defeat to Richard Tardy's charges.
Myanmar were largely on top in the first half, and had seven corners within 30 minutes.
However, the Singapore defence, led by Home United's Irfan Fandi, stood up strongly to repel almost everything that came their way.
The Young Lions, however, struggled up front with just a single opportunity in the first half on 12 minutes.
Lone forward Ikhsan Fandi, Irfan's brother, got his head to Hami Syahin's free kick, but could only direct it straight at goalkeeper Sann Sat Naing.
Myanmar were continually frustrated, with Aung Kaung Mann seeing his 24th-minute header saved at point-blank range by Singapore custodian Zharfan Rohaizad.
Eleven minutes later, captain Si Thu Aung unleashed a goal-bound drive in the box, which was denied by a superb block by Amirul Adli.
Gerd Ziese's side broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time.
Hlaing Bo Bo's shot got a deflection off Joshua Pereira before falling kindly to the path of Aung Thu, who slotted home from just outside the six-yard box.
Credit to the Young Lions, they came out fighting after the break, and created a glut of opportunities without putting them away.
Ikhsan fired just wide from 25 yards out on 46 minutes before Hami did something similar a minute later.
Illyas Lee then forced a save from the edge of the box and then Ikhsan put a header off Amirul Adli's free kick on target.
Myanmar would go on to show them how it should be done in the 61st minute.
From a short throw-in, Mg Mg Lwin skinned Haiqal Pashia before squaring across the six-yard box for Aung Thu to tap home their second of the afternoon.
Richard Tardy's men did have their chances to pull one back late on.
Ikhsan's strong header off Hami's lofted ball on 73 minutes was tipped wide by Sat Naing, before elder brother Irfan headed over from a corner deep into added time.
The Singaporeans will need to recover fast, with the Causeway derby against Malaysia at Shah Alam Stadium coming up on Wednesday.
Myanmar: Sann Sat Naing (GK), Nan Wai Min, Htike Htike Aung, Thiha Htet Aung, Hein Thiha Zaw, Hlaing Bo Bo (Maung Aung Soe 90'), Yan Naing Oo (Ye Yint Tun 66'), Si Thu Aung (C), Mg Mg Lwin, Aung Thu, Aung Kaung Mann (Than Paing 72')
Singapore: Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Rusyaidi Salime, Irfan Fandi (C), Amirul Adli, Syahrul Sazali, Illyas Lee, Hami Syahin (Amiruldin Asraf 88'), Muhaimin Suhaimi (Taufik Suparno 78'), Joshua Pereira (Muhelmy Suhaimi 68'), Haiqal Pashia, Ikhsan Fandi
Kenneth Tan is a Singapore-based football writer on S.League and AFC Cup for ESPN FC and FourFourTwo. Twitter: @KennerveT