Singapore 1-1 Myanmar
Singapore’s Hockey players were given a stern test by their Myanmar counterparts on the opening day in the SEA Games Hockey competition.
Team SG had to come from a goal behind against their less fancied opponents, who had taken the lead with a well worked corner and despite dominating the game, the home side could only manage to get a draw.
Singapore were playing in front of a packed SengKang Stadium, with a number of supporters unable to get into the ground because it was full to capacity.
The partizan crowd had just witnessed the women getting thrashed by Malaysia and were hoping for a better performance from the men.
Indeed, Singapore controlled the opening ten minutes of the half but created little in the way of chances while Myanmar were happy to loft the ball long, hoping for their lone frontman to chase down.
Singapore’s Noor Silas brought the first save of the game from Hlaing Kyaw Soe and was rewarded by his good play with a penalty corner after 23 minutes. Tan Yi Ru was so unlucky to see his effort hitting the post high up, a lead Singapore surely deserved.
Aung Thein Htike was causing Singapore some problems at the back with some mazy runs but the home side were able to deal with any sporadic Myanmar attacks.
With fifteen minutes remaining in the first half, Singapore had a chance to get on the scoresheet, but another short corner was wasted although Myanmar only half cleared and Marican’s reversed effort was well stopped by Hlaing.
Myanmar had a real chance to take the lead with their first penalty corner of the match on 25 minutes and, boy, how they took advantage. After an extensive huddle between the attacking group, Aung whipped the ball to the edge of the D, Zaw brilliantly turning the ball in after Win’s initial piledriver into the danger area. One-Nil to Myanmar.
Abdullah then forced a fantastic save from Hlaing with an instinctive flick, the keeper jumping high to his left, as Singapore tried to get back on level terms.
Myanmar started growing in confidence despite the pressure being put on them by Singapore, who, with 5 minutes remaining of the first half, were roared on by a partizan crowd.
Nor Silas thought he had got on the scoresheet, he would have done were it not for the brilliance of Hlaing, who produced another fine save.
Silas Adbul Razak then produced a moment of magic with a minute remaining on the clock. The forward received the ball with his back to goal, managed to make some room for himself before turning and guiding the ball past the helpless Hlaing, who until that stage had looked unbeatable. Singapore going into the half time break deservedly on level terms. Myanmar complained for sometime that the goal should not have been allowed. In fact, with only nine seconds remaining, the clock stood still for over 5 minutes as coach Zaw Win discussed with the officials in a bizarre scene, complaining that the ball had hit the boot of the goalscorer. Replays showed little evidence either way.
In the second half, Singapore started the stronger of the two sides, Abdullah seeing his close range effort well saved.
Seven minutes into the second half and Singapore had the chance to edge in front after good play from Sivalingam saw the ball bounce off the feet of Kyaw to result in a penalty corner. However, Myanmar continued their excellent defensive display and managed to clear.
Aung then looked dangerous for Myanmar as they managed a rare foray into the Singapore half. The forward hit a beautiful through ball to Tun Tet Paing who thought he had scored with just Adon to beat but his flicked effort went just over the bar.
Singapore continued to toil ahead of a packed Myanmar defence and found chances few and far between despite dominating the game and making their opponents work hard.
Htwe Thet got just reward for a fine run down the right hand side with a quarter of an hour remaining. It was the only time Myanmar had more than 5 men in the opposition half in the second 35 minutes as they were awarded two penalty corners in quick succession. The first came to nothing, the second was missed by the setter and Singapore had the chance to break with numbers in the Myanmar half, however the counter attack came to nothing.
As the game entered its final minutes, Singapore continued with their dominance, Myanmar happy to defend and counter attack . Zulkepli looked dangerous from time to time with some innovative moves but the end result was often lacking.
A penalty corner with seven minutes remaining lifted the crowd, and the ball ended up in the back of the net only after another foul had been called, much to the disgust of the crowd. Another penalty corner was fizzed just wide by Zulkepli.
A mistake from the Singapore backline allowed Aung the chance to break through one-on-one but somehow the impressive forward mistimed his shot and powered wide with only 3 minutes remaining. Had that gone in, Singapore would have struggled to get something from the game.
The full time whistled was greeted with joy from the Myanmar side, who were out on their backs after putting in a brilliant defensive display.