Returning to the starting eleven after missing Thailand’s impressive win over New Zealand last week with a minor injury, Charyl Chappuis replaced Adul Lahso and converted the winning penalty when the youthful lineup faced a more experienced Singapore in yesterday’s AFF Suzuki Cup clash at the new National Stadium in Singapore.
The Singaporeans refused to let Thailand settle into the game early, pressing high against the War Elephants defence on a pitch looking worse for wear, but a loss of concentration just eight minutes into the game allowed Mongkol Totsakrai to find space and tap in a cross to give Thailand an early lead. The goal swayed the momentum in Thailand’s favour, with Singapore’s frustration showing when Baihakkhi Kaizan’s clumsy tackle earned him a yellow card from referee Alireza Faghani.
Tampines Rovers defender Shaiful Esah’s challenge on Mongkol forced him off the pitch and The Lions capitalised on the temporary extra man advantage, Khairul Amri found the back of the net with a unmarked header from a superb cross by Shaiful to put the sides back on level terms.
Despite some fast attacks down the flanks by Thailand, poor finishing kept The Lions within reach of a draw as they looked to play fast balls to Amri as often as possible. LionsXII defender Safuwan Baharudin shattered their hopes when he couldn’t get his arm out of the way of Chappuis’s cross. Swiss-born Chappuis stepped up to the spot and converted past goalkeeper Hassan Sunny to mark a loss for Singapore in their first game at the new stadium.
The War Elephants’ win puts them top of Group B, two points ahead of Malaysia and Myanmar who played out a 0-0 draw in the earlier match.