SINGAPORE - The Lionesses had wanted to pit themselves against higher-ranked opponents in preparation for next month's Asean Football Federation (AFF) Women's Championship – and they got the tough outing they wanted in Thursday's (June 23) 4-0 loss to Hong Kong at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
While it was a drubbing, the match gave Singapore coach Stephen Ng the chance to test out different tactical options against world No. 78 visitors ahead of the AFF championship.
Noting that tactical flexibility would be crucial as they gear up to face different opponents at the July 4-17 competition, Ng opted for a back five for world No. 132 Singapore, with midfielders Putri Nur Syaliza and Nur Farhanah Ruhaizat operating as wingbacks.
He said: "Overall the team did well in terms of working together as a unit. Structurally we were organised and able to compete, but the only thing was the scoreline.
"But Hong Kong, being a quality side – we have to respect that - it's a very good learning experience for us. We're still working on our game and this will help us in preparation for the AFF championship."
It did not take long for Hong Kong to break the deadlock, with forward Lau Yun Yi putting the 2018 Asian Games quarter-finalists up 1-0 in the 12th minute.
Singapore goalkeeper Noor Kusumawati had parried a long-range effort away, but her clearance fell to Lau who tapped it in from close range, before she scored again a minute later to double their advantage.
Hong Kong extended their lead in the 53rd minute when Wu Choi Yiu lobbed the ball over Singapore's defence and into the path of skipper Chan Wing Sze, who put it calmly past Kusumawati to make it 3-0.
The visitors then made it 4-0 when Leung Hong Kiu Anke headed in Chan's free-kick in the 90th minute, to make it five wins in five encounters for Hong Kong against the Republic.
Ng, who gave all his uncapped players a chance to play, admitted that the Hong Kong players were technically superior, but felt that the areas they lacked in during the game could be improved on.
He said: "The four goals (we let in) were generally quite soft - it can be avoided with more communication and cutting out the second balls, so these are things we will continue to work on."
Singapore will play Hong Kong again on Sunday, before departing for Manila five days later for the AFF Women's Championship. They are in Group A with 2008 champions Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and four-time champions Thailand.
Ng is expecting to make changes for Sunday, saying: "It will be a different ball game. Squad rotation is essentially good for us when we play five games in 10 days for AFF."
With this being Hong Kong's first international match since last September's Asian Cup qualifiers, Hong Kong coach Jose Ricardo Rambo was heartened by how his players performed.
The Brazilian said: "We expected from the beginning to see some mistakes or errors during the match. But the most important was the attitude of the players during pressing and high pressing and how we could recover the ball, I'm pleased with this attitude in the game.
"Of course we have situations where we want more from the team, especially keeping ball possession better, but this gives us good enthusiasm for next step after a long period of no competition it's important."
Player of the Match Lau was happy to score a brace and hopes the team can carry the momentum to the next game, adding: "It puts the team in good spirits. The team is very young and as a more experienced player, I hope I can set a good example and be a role model and give the players more confidence in the next game."