Singapore let go off a good opportunity to top the Group E table of AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers when they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat to lower-ranked Chinese Taipei at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday. Coach V Sundramoorthy says the loss has taught the Lions that they need to work extra to secure points and that there are no easy games in the campaign.
The 157th-ranked side, who were playing the first-round match at home, started as favourites to secure three points yesterday. Singapore began on a good note as well after skipper Hariss Harun put them in the front as early as in the sixth minute of the match.
Kazuo Kuroda's side though did not buckle under pressure, but kept testing custodian Hassan Sunny before their star player Xavier Chen, who plys his trade with Belgian top-tier side Mechelen, got the equaliser after the Lions failed to clear the ball after a free-kick.
Singapore dominated possession, but it was Chinese Taipei, who got ahead at the one-hour mark when Chen Chao-an was given an open goal when the hosts' backline panicked after failing to clear a cross from Chen Po Liang. Sundramoorthy's side then tried all that they could to find the equaliser, but Kuroda's men snatched three points to and go to the second-spot on the table with a win from two games.
"I felt that it was a rather even game tonight. The boys tried their best and I would not say they were complacent. There are no easy games in international football – this is an important lesson learned that we need to work extra to get points." Sundramoorthy said, as quoted by Football Association of Singapore's official website.
"A draw would have been a better result, but that's football. We take responsibility and move on. We wanted to win this game so that we can be in a good position, but we now need to pick ourselves up and prepare for our next home game [against Turkmenistan]."
Singapore, who held higher-ranked Bahrain to a 0-0 draw in the campaign opener in April, now have to work hard to keep their chances of making the group stages of Asian Cup 2019 alive as they have slipped to the last spot in the group. The Lions have four more games in the qualifying stages, with their next against group leaders Turkmenistan on 5 September at home.