Football: Singapore U-15s win 1st match in AFC U-16 qualifiers to salvage some pride

Irfan Jeferee (No. 12) scored Singapore's third goal in the 87th minute to seal the 3-1 win after Cambodia scored the opening goal.
Irfan Jeferee (No. 12) scored Singapore's third goal in the 87th minute to seal the 3-1 win after Cambodia scored the opening goal.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Coach praises 'killer instinct' after 3-1 victory against Cambodia as Tardy cites 'good spirit'

Pride was at last salvaged for the Singapore Under-15 team as they netted their first goals and won their first match at the third and final attempt at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-16 Championship qualifiers yesterday.

Finally showing composure in front of the net, V. Selvaraj's side defeated their Cambodian counterparts 3-1 at Jalan Besar Stadium to finish third in Group H and leave their opponents anchored to the bottom.

Selvaraj said: "They were very determined, they wanted to fight for everything. The strong winning mentality in the boys sent the message to their body to move, to run.

"We had some killer instinct... they didn't give up. They wanted to win this game badly."

Facing the same opponents who held them to a goalless draw at the Asean Football Federation (AFF) U-16 Youth Championships last month, it was Cambodia who first found the net.

In the 47th minute, striker Sieng Chanthea sprinted into the penalty area to latch onto a long ball before slamming it home.

But Singapore stuck to its passing game and the team's patience paid off as Victoria School striker Glenn Kweh equalised for the hosts in the 68th minute.

Left winger Khairul Abdul Hamid added another goal in the 80th minute before midfielder Irfan Jeferee sealed the victory in the 87th minute.

Selvaraj believes that the players have benefited from the experience of playing against some of Asia's best youth teams, including North Korea and Thailand.

During last month's Lion City Cup, when the U-15s lost both their matches, the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) head coach of national youth teams Richard Tardy criticised the team's displays as "not good enough".

Yesterday, the Frenchman was pleased, saying: "It is not easy after two losses to come back to show good spirit in this game.

"It is very important for the team to finish on a positive note. We finished third (in the qualifiers). We are under North Korea and Thailand. Our job in the future is to try to reduce this difference."

Selvaraj also noted that his players have improved, starting with a 5-0 loss to Thailand before restricting North Korea to a 3-0 win.

When asked to rate his team's performance over the three matches, the coach did not hesitate.

"10 out of 10," was his reply.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2015, with the headline 'Selvaraj joy as S'pore u-15s win'. Print Edition | Subscribe