Football: Lions fall 1-0 to Chinese Taipei in final Asian Cup qualifier, finish bottom of Group E

Chinese Taipei skipper Chen Po-liang celebrates after scoring the 1-0 lead during the Asian Cup qualifying match against Singapore in Taipei on March 27, 2018.
Chinese Taipei skipper Chen Po-liang celebrates after scoring the 1-0 lead during the Asian Cup qualifying match against Singapore in Taipei on March 27, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SINGAPORE - The Lions created a host of chances but failed to convert any of them as Singapore fell to a 1-0 defeat away at Chinese Taipei on Tuesday (March 27), concluding their Asian Cup Group E qualifying campaign.

Chinese Taipei skipper Chen Po-liang's incisive finish in the 37th minute off a Li Mao back-heel that sent him clear proved the difference between the two sides at the Taipei Municipal Stadium.

Singapore had more shots (eight) and shots on target (six) compared to Chinese Taipei (five and one respectively) but it was their opponents who looked the more threatening going forward as the visitors resorted largely to long-ball tactics.

Coming off a first victory in 16 months after beating the Maldives 3-2 on March 23, the Lions' attack stuttered again. The team had previously never scored more than one goal in a game under national coach V. Sundram Moorthy.

 
 

Midfielder Izzdin Shafiq came closest when his shot from 35m was palmed over the bar by goalkeeper Pan Wen-Chieh on the stroke of half-time, while central defender Irfan Fandi's 92nd minute header fell agonisingly wide to the 20-year-old's frustration.

Sundram made two changes to the side that beat the Maldives, with Anders Aplin and Izzdin Shafiq coming in for Zulfahmi Arifin and Shahdan Sulaiman.

There was no room in the starting XI however for Fulham Under-18 midfielder Ben Davis or Albirex Niigata playmaker Adam Swandi, although Sundram handed Geylang International defender Aplin his first start for the national team.

The 52-year-old also elected to bring experience off the bench for his three changes - veteran striker Khairul Amri and utility player Safuwan Baharudin replaced Faris Ramli and Yasir Hanapi in the 70th minutes, while Shahdan replaced Shawal Anuar in the 81st minute.

"I think for us it was disappointing not to get the result but I think we played well and we deserved to get something out of this game," said national skipper Hariss Harun in a live post-match television interview.

"We created a lot of chances but could not score goals so we have to take these positives from this game and try to improve."

The game was a dead rubber, with both sides having already been eliminated from Asian Cup qualification.

Singapore finished bottom of Group E with two points after two draws and four losses. Chinese Taipei were third with nine points.