Bangkok: Singapore defender Irfan Fandi felt that a slow start effectively killed off his team’s bid for a place in the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup semi-finals as they fell to a 3-0 defeat to Thailand.

Goals from Pansa Hemviboon and Supachai Jaided had the home side 2-0 ahead by the 23rd minute and, while the visitors battled to get back in the game, they were unable to break down the Thailand defence.

"We conceded two soft early goals,” said Irfan. “We didn't start the game as well as we did in the past few games. But in the second half, we started playing football. 

“We started building up well and we tried to push up our defenders, including myself. We tried to get the goals but, unfortunately, it backfired and they scored a third goal. But I think we had to take risks in this game."

Despite the defeat, there is a more upbeat mood around the Singapore camp after a difficult few years. Although it is the third consecutive time that the Lions have failed to progress to the last four of the competition, there is a growing feeling that this side has a bright future as they adopted a more attacking approach under head coach Fandi Ahmad.

"We only had a few months of preparation under the new coach,” said Irfan. “I have to say we actually progressed a lot. Our football now is much more attacking and free flowing. 

“The boys are enjoying it much more and you can see from the games that we are not defending as much. We're trying to build up and let the players express themselves in the game. We're ready for the future to come."

Irfan’s future will see him return to Thailand soon as he joins BG Pathum United. The 21-year-old feels that the experience in the Rajamangala Stadium taught him a few things about what to expect in the Thai League.

"All the players are really technical players and you can see they like to have the ball at their feet and play very good passing football, so I'm looking forward to playing there," said Irfan.