Heavy loss a 'good learning experience' for Lionesses

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 yesterday's 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 the 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 wing-backs.

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."

With this being Hong Kong's first international match since last September's Asian Cup qualifiers, their coach Jose Ricardo Rambo was heartened by how his players performed.

It did not take long for them 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-distance effort away, but her clearance fell to Lau who tapped in from close range, before doubling their advantage a minute later.

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 made no mistake. They made it 4-0 when Leung Hong Kiu headed in Chan's free kick in the 90th minute, to make it five wins in five encounters against the Republic.

Ng, who gave all his uncapped players a chance to play, admitted that the four goals conceded were "quite soft". "But it can be avoided with more communication and cutting out the second balls," he said, adding that these are things that they will work on.

Singapore will play Hong Kong again on Sunday, before departing for Manila five days later for the AFF 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: "Squad rotation is essentially good for us when we play five games in 10 days for AFF."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2022, with the headline Heavy loss a 'good learning experience' for Lionesses. Subscribe