SINGAPORE - The Young Lions will return home from the SEA Games with tails between their legs after a 3-0 defeat on Dec 1 (Sunday) by defending champions Thailand effectively ended their hopes of progressing to the football semi-finals even with two Group B games to go.
They will suffer the ignominy of being the first Singapore team to fail to score in three successive games at a single Games, following a goal-less draw with Laos and a 2-0 loss to Indonesia. They have two games to go against Vietnam on Tuesday and Brunei on Thursday.
Against Thailand, there were already early warning signs at the Binan Football Stadium, where striker Supachai Jaided and right-winger Jaroensak Wonggorn had three attempts that flashed just wide in the opening five minutes.
But Singapore failed to take heed and left-winger Suphanat Mueanta danced past Zulqarnaen Suzliman and Lionel Tan to lay it on a plate for Jaroensak to sweep in the opener in the seventh minute.
Suphanat Mueanta, 17, then got on the scoresheet himself after a give-and-go with Ratthanakorn Maikami before slotting past Zharfan Rohaizad in the 18th minute.
Young Lions coach Fandi Ahmad tried to turn the tide by sending on striker Ikhsan Fandi, who had been coping with knee and ankle complaints, for Naqiuddin Eunos in the 30th minute.
But Singapore just could not stop the onslaught on the wings. In the 36th minute, centre-back Kritsada Kaman overlapped down the right to cross for right-back Peerawat Akkatam to score from inside the box.
Though the Young Lions led 8-5 in the corner count, their deliveries from set plays were generally poor against Thailand, who opted not to include two overage players in their 20-man squad of Under-22 players, which teams are allowed to.
Even when forward Faris Ramli managed one good deep corner in the 56th minute, skipper Irfan Fandi could only head straight at goalkeeper Nont Muangngam, who saved well from Tan's direct free kick six minutes later.
With just one point from three games, Singapore are fifth out of six teams in the group, and have only a mathematical chance of finishing in the top two to make it to the semi-finals, which they last reached in 2013 when they took bronze.