Football: Ikhsan Fandi's penalty conversion helps Singapore U-23s beat India U-23s 1-0, avenge earlier defeat

SINGAPORE - Three days after suffering a 0-1 loss to India's Under-23 football team, Singapore's U-23 side avenged that defeat by beating the same opponents 1-0 in their second of two friendly matches played at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium on Wednesday (July 12).

Ikhsan Fandi's 51st-minute penalty conversion was enough to help the Republic register their first victory since a 3-1 victory over Myanmar on Feb 19.

Richard Tardy, the head coach of the national youth teams, was pleased with his charges' performance, despite the absence of key players including Irfan Fandi and Dhukilan Jeevamani.

Tardy noted that the players were more eager to regain the ball after losing possession this time round.

He said: "There's a big difference between the first game (last Sunday) and the second game. Many people spoke badly about this young team, that we have no chance, that we are lacklustre.

"It's a good win for us, they fought until the end and we can be proud of their performance. This win is important for our confidence."

The win is a timely boost for the Cubs ahead of their two main assignments over the course of the next two months.

Singapore will face hosts Myanmar next Wednesday in the opening match of their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 Championship qualifying campaign. The Republic will also meet Australia (July 21) and Brunei (July 23) in Group F.

And after that competition, more eyes will be on Tardy's team as they head to Kuala Lumpur for the SEA Games next month.

Singapore have been drawn in Group A along with hosts Malaysia, Myanmar and Laos. This means they avoid facing defending champions Thailand and 2015 bronze medallists Vietnam in the preliminary round of the biennial tournament.

But Tardy warned that talk of Singapore being expected to advance past the group stage could harm the players.

Tardy said: "When people talk about an easy group, you put pressure on the players. When it's easy, people say they must qualify, but the players don't think it's easy."