KUALA LUMPUR - The dark clouds that slowly formed above the Selayang Stadium in the opening match of the SEA Games football tournament was a metaphor for Singapore coach Richard Tardy's mood as he watched his team slump to a 0-2 loss to Myanmar on Monday (July 14).
Striker Aung Thu again proved to be a thorn in the Young Lions' side. The 21-year-old had scored the opener in his country's 2-0 win at last month's AFC Under-22 Championship qualifier and it was his calm finish in first-half injury time that broke the deadlock in Kuala Lumpur.
He doubled his tally in the 61st minute with a simple tap-in after good work by team-mate Maung Lwin down the right wing to seal the three points.
The win puts the White Angels in good position to qualify from Group A for the semi-finals. The 2015 silver medallists next face Laos on Wednesday while Singapore take on hosts Malaysia.
For Tardy and his team, it was frustrating afternoon as their gritty defensive performance was undone by misfortune just before half-time.
Aung found himself unmarked in Singapore penalty area from a deflected shot and rolled the ball past Zharfan Rohaizad.
The Republic had spent most of the first 45 minutes on the back foot but were more aggressive after the interval as striker Ikshan Fandi tested Myanmar goalkeeper Sann Sat Naing several times with low drives early in the second half.
But they were caught napping just after the hour as Maung easily turned Syahrul Sazali and crossed for Aung to finish from close range.
Singapore have never won the gold medal, winning three silvers and six bronzes. They were knocked out in the group stage at the 2015 Games held in Singapore.
Malaysia beat Brunei 2-1 on Monday night at the Shah Alam Stadium. The top two teams in the group advance into the semi-finals.