SINGAPORE - Despite a hat-trick of wonder shots by Khairul Anwar, Singapore's cerebral palsy football team were beaten 5-3 by defending champions Myanmar in their round robin match at the Asean Para Games (APG).
Team captain Khairul produced three stunning long shots, including an effort from the halfway line, during the 60-minute encounter at the National Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The defender netted in the third, 54th and 60th minutes to take his individual tally for the tournament up to four goals.
However, his heroics were not enough to stop Myanmar from repeating another victory over the same opponents whom they had defeated in 2014 APG final.
The match started with a breathless series of goals. Myanmar's seven-a-side team opened the scoring in the second minute through a powerful drive by their skipper That Naing from the edge of the penalty box.
Even before the jumbo screens had finished replaying the strike and when celebrations for the first goal were still ongoing, Singapore equalised immediately from kick-off through Khairul, who let fly with a magical shot from the halfway line that beat goalkeeper Than Htut Win.
In similar fashion, Khairul's left foot produced another stunner in the 54th minute from 30 metres. And in the final minute, his trusty left foot produced another gem from a 25-metre free-kick to give the 2,000-strong crowd a real treat.
Riduan Ali, a 24-year-old motion designer, said: "He's the hero and icon for the team. His performance was outstanding and you seldom see such shots even in normal football matches."
But the hat-trick hero deflected all the praise lavished on him after the game, saying simply: "It's entertaining football for everyone."
Singapore next face Thailand in a must-win round robin game on Sunday at the National Stadium. Thailand are undefeated after two matches, while Singapore have notched a win and a loss each. The top two teams of the five-team tournament will advance to the gold medal match.