Even though the Young Lions were defeated on 5-1 by title-holder Team South Korea in Under-23 Asian Cup qualifiers on October 31, their coach Nazri Nasir has a positive outlook to move forward as they eye the championship title for 2022’s SEA Games and Asian Games.
“I’m especially delighted of how our players competed against South Korea in the second half,” he remarked after the qualifiers’ last match at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
“We played positive football in all three games. We didn’t sit back and wait to be beaten; instead, we were always attempting to build.”
“We are aware that the standard of football in South Korea is vastly different from ours. However, the players gained valuable experience and now have a better understanding of what top Asian football entails. I’m hoping we’ll have more international friendlies to play next year so we can keep improving.”
Current Team Standing
The odds in SG Pools were not in favor of Singapore prior to the opening after the Philippines were defeated by Timor-Leste in a 1-0 match at the beginning for Group H.
In this round, only the winner and the second place from each of the 11 respective groups will be qualified to the next phase of the tournament which will be held in Uzbekistan next year. While some of the groups consist of only three teams, the results of the national teams placed in the bottom of the group will not be considered in choosing the four best runners-up.
As the hosts are required to have an unlikely win against South Korea to qualify, it was so surprised when they started out with just five defenders and have chosen to skip point player Joel Chew, who has been impressive in this season.
There was a gaping void between the younger generations of Singapore football players and the best in Asia as it was evident that the more agile, better and brighter Koreans just took two minutes to destroy the line of defense of Singapore. They have managed to build an impressive 2-0 lead after six minutes with the help of Cho Sang-jun and Kim Chan.
Meanwhile, Glenn Kweh struggled to disrupt a sure shot from Lee Gwang-yeon during the 14th-minute mark. The match was deemed over by the half-time when Park Jeong-in managed to force Jacob Mahler into his own goal in the 25th minute ahead of achieving their fourth later in 15.
The Young Lions managed to fight back by introducing Chew during the second half, even though the Koreans already made a score of 5-0 seven minutes after the resumption via an impressive play by Choi Jun. He belonged to the six members of the team that was runners-up during the Under-20 World Cup back in 2019.
Chew managed to make an impressive move as he was leading the 57th-minute counteroffensive that led to left-back Nur Adam Abdullah a win against Lee Gwang-Yeon, which boosted the confidence of the local crowd for a little bit.
Even though the Young Lions lost the match the national selectors saw a brighter future for the impressive players like Chew, Kweh, Adam, and Jordan.
The Young Lions are expected to face a hectic season next year with two major tournaments on the way, however, they need to prove to the National Olympic Council that they are qualified to compete for both games.
South Korea manager Hwang Sun-hong remarked after his team’s single goal of the season: “Singapore executed good moves in the second half, and I believe it’s excellent that they exhibited their own style of football.”
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