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U-23s crash again at Merdeka Cup

JOHOR BARU — The Singapore Under-23s are out of the running for a place in the final of the 2013 Merdeka Cup tournament after they suffered their second consecutive 1-0 defeat.

JOHOR BARU — The Singapore Under-23s are out of the running for a place in the final of the 2013 Merdeka Cup tournament after they suffered their second consecutive 1-0 defeat.

The Young Lions crashed to a Thailand Under-23 side at the Darulmakmur Stadium in Kuantan yesterday to follow up their lost in last Saturday’s opener against Malaysia.

The killer blow came in the 33rd minute through dangerman Pakorn Parmpak, a striker with Thai Premier League side Thai Police.

With the tournament featuring just four teams, the best that V Sundramoorthy’s men can do is a third-place finish, even if they have one more match to play in the preliminary round — against Myanmar tomorrow in Temerloh.

Despite the narrow defeat, the Singapore side must contend with the fact that the Thais were technically more gifted and had greater composure on the ball, as evidenced by their greater domination of play.

All Sundram’s men had was the determination and the fighting spirit, which proved to be not quite enough.

Pakorn’s goal, a right-footed shot from the edge of the 18-yard box which curled into Neezam Aziz’s top left hand corner, was a beauty deserving to be a match winner.

Pakorn would hit Neezam’s post in the 77th minute but, by then, Singapore were looking very vulnerable, and with Sundram sent to the stands after the referee objected to his vociferous protests.

Singapore, missing a handful of their regulars, who are away with the national senior team in Hong Kong, simply did not have the cutting edge needed to breach the rock-solid Thai defence.

Khairul Nizam and Faris Ramli, Singapore’s two men up front, created openings on the rare occasion, but their finishing let them down.

Said Singapore assistant coach K Balagumaran: “I must admit that the Thais are a good side technically, but they had some senior players which gave them the experience and maturity.

“We are a young side up against a strong team, and I thought it was unlucky for us to have conceded that goal.

“Credit to the team, they fought back strongly to find the equaliser but, more importantly, we gave the chance to a handful of untested players in the team to show that they are worthy for inclusion for the SEA Games squad for Myanmar in December.

“Goalkeeper Neezam Aziz, for example, is someone who we need to give more playing time, and it was good that he managed to get his opportunity between the sticks.”

Other result:

Malaysia U-23 2 Myanmar U-23 1

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