Recovering from an own goal and a muted first half, Singapore made ample amends in the second session to down Cambodia 2-1 in their friendly at Olympic Stadium on Tuesday evening.
This was Cambodia’s final warm-up game before training supremo Keisuke Honda and his Argentine head coach, Felix Gonzalez, get down to their preparations for the regional showpiece AFF Suzuki Cup early next month.
Singapore interim head coach Fandi Ahmed will take his squad to Osaka for a two-week stint before the Lions begin their cup campaign.
“There was no need for angry words at half-time. I just told the players to focus and keep pushing forward,” Fandi said after the match.
It was a warm-up game both nations deemed important, though coach Gonzalez had the more strategic goals of implementing a new approach and blooding new talent, while Fandi, five months into his job, was keener on fine-tuning his team.
The outcome left the Cambodian camp disappointed, especially the defensive lapses that led to Singapore’s comeback.
Experimentation with an untested young starting line-up did bring rewards but Cambodia could not build on their first-half advantage.
Even the addition of star forward Chan Vathanaka on 57 minutes could not help rein in Singapore.
A cross from Boeung Ket defender Sath Rosib was turned into his own net by Ho Wai Loon after 18 minutes, and the visitors failed to land even one shot on target while Cambodia came close to a second on a couple of occasions.
Singapore improved in the second half, and on the hour 18-year-old Jacob scored from close range after Cambodia failed to clear Zulfahmi’s free kick.
It was left to the hard working Ikhsan to hit the winner with 15 minutes to go, giving Singapore their first away win in 13 attempts.
The 56-year-old Fandi, who took over in May, recorded his third win in four matches. His tenure is set to end after the Suzuki Cup.