Indonesia 1 Singapore 0
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Kuala Lumpur – Substitute Andik Firmansyah struck three minute from time as Indonesia kept alive their AFF Suzuki Cup hopes with a 1-0 win over 10-man Singapore at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Wednesday.
With Singapore a player down after Irwan Shah had been dismissed midway through the second half, Indonesia finally made the breakthrough in the dying minutes when Singapore goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud misjudged Andik’s deep free-kick from the left flank which looped over his head into the top corner of the net.
Alekasandar Duric had gone closest to breaking the deadlock for Singapore in the 80th minute with a header that came back off the crossbar as the Lions suffered their first ever loss at the hands of the Merah Putih in the Asean Football Championship.
“I am proud of my players. They made the game very exciting today and they played with good motivation and good spirit,” said Indonesia coach Nil Maizar, whose team leapfrogged Singapore to the top of Group B with four points.
Added Indonesia forward Irfan Bachdim: “We fought really hard for this game and finally we got what we deserved.
“We played hard as a team and we worked hard and I think we were more hungry for the win. I think that we deserved this win but we have to go back to reality now. We have got four points but I think that we need three more and so we have to focus on the next game against Malaysia.”
Singapore made only one change that beat Malaysia 3-0 in their opening match with Irwan coming in at left-back for the injured Shaiful Esah.
However, Indonesia looked very different from the side that drew 2-2 with Laos with no less than five changes as Andik and striker Bambang Pamungskas were left on the bench while Handi Ramdhan and Tonnie Cusell were sidelined by injury and goalkeeper Endra Prasetya was suspended following his red card in the Laos game.
Chances were few and far between in a dull first half played in a heavy downpour.
The Singapore defence showed signs of nervousness early on and a poor backpass in the sixth minute allowed Oktovianus Maniani to nip into a dangerous position on the left of the Singapore box. But with only Izwan to beat, he failed to put his attempt on target.
Singapore’s first real chance arrived in the 15th minute when a corner from the right by Shi Jiayi was met at the near post by Safuwan Baharuddin who put his header wide.
A great flick-on midway through the half set up Vendry Mofu on the right of the Singapore box but his hard low shot was well stopped by Izwan.
A clever free-kick routine shortly after saw Shi square the ball from the right of the box to Shahdan Sulaiman, whose fierce drive from 20 metres was superbly stopped by goalkeeper Wahyu Tri Nugroho.
Singapore suffered a big blow in the 40th minute when holding midfielder Hariss Harun suffered an injury on his right leg and was replaced by veteran Aleksandar Duric.
As the half come to a close, Novan Setya Sasongko fired in a low shot that was stopped by Izwan before Baihakki headed over off a free-kick by Shahdan.
Andik and Bambang came on early in the second half to replace Rachmat Syamsuddin Leo and Elie Aiboy but the match continued to sputter along until the 68th minute when Irwan received his second yellow card in two minutes for a foul on Andik and was sent off.
Indonesia sensed an opportunity and they nearly made the breakthrough in the 70th minute when the ball was lobbed by Andik towards Bambang which caught out the static Singapore defence but not Izwan who came off his line to sweep away the ball before Bambang could finish.
Indonesia were in the ascendancy but Singapore could have been awarded a penalty shortly afterwards when Khairul Amri was upended in the box but the referee waved away his appeals and booked the striker instead.
Singapore continued to threaten with Shahril Ishak heading over after the ball had been was floated into the box by Daniel Bennett and with 10 minutes left, Duric met Shi’s cross from the right with a thumping header that rocked the woodwork.
The game looked destined for a draw but with three minutes left, the previously faultless Izwan misread Andik’s free-kick from the left which floated over his head and into the net for the winner.
Singapore coach Radojko Avramovic felt that his side were unlucky not to get at least a point from the match.
“As expected, it was a difficult game and I think that there were two parts to it – the game before the red card and after that,” he said.
“In my opinion, Indonesia were happy to play for one point before Irwan was sent off because they were content to play on the counter-attack. But after that, there were still three critical moments when we should have got a penalty, Shahril headed over and Duric hit the post.
“Then I thought the game was finished but then it happened that Andik scored but I think he was trying to cross the ball and not to score.”