KUALA LUMPUR - Given their first start of the SEA Games football competition, Singapore's Taufik Suparno and Hanafi Akbar wasted little time to make an impression in a 2-0 win over Laos on Friday (Aug 18).
Less than three minutes had elapsed at the Selayang Stadium when Hanafi crossed from the left to an unmarked forward Taufik who drilled home the opener for the Young Lions.
An injury to Laos centre-back Pathammavong Piyaphong saw him limp off after nine minutes and his replacement Lounlasy Lathasay's first contribution was to concede a penalty after a foul on Ikhsan Fandi.
The 18-year-old forward took the spot-kick himself and calmly rolled it past Laos goalkeeper Paseuth Saymanolinh to put Singapore 2-0 up after just 11 minutes.
The win was Singapore's first at the 29th Games after back-to-back defeats to Myanmar and Malaysia and moved them up to third in Group A on three points.
Coach Richard Tardy's line-up featured four changes from the Malaysia game. Besides winger Hanafi, 22, and forward Taufik, 21, Tardy included playmaker Adam Swandi, 21, and defender Shahrin Saberin, 22.
The attack-minded starting XI was a far cry from the Frenchman's more conservative tactics in the previous two games as he sought to contain Myanmar and Malaysia and hit them on the counter attack. Singapore lost 0-2 and 1-2 respectively.
In the day's other match, Myanmar beat Brunei 6-0 for their third straight win and are top of Group A with nine points and have booked their spot in the semi-finals.
Hosts Malaysia, who have won their opening two games, are expected to join them. They face Myanmar, silver medallists in 2015, on Aug 21 needing a point to advance to the last four.
The Young Lions, who were eliminated at the group stage at the 2015 Games on home soil, are unlikely to progress from their group again.
They need to beat Brunei in their final match on Aug 23 by a big scoreline to improve their minus-one goal difference and hope second-placed Malaysia (plus two goal difference) lose to Myanmar next week and Laos (Aug 23).