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Song Uiyoung on the ball against Morocco A’, 16 November 2021
DUBAI, 16 NOVEMBER 2021 – Singapore were given a tough examination on Tuesday evening as they went down 7-1 to Morocco A’ in a training match.
It was the second and final match of the Lions’ training camp in Dubai, which started last Monday (8 November) and saw them lose 2-1 to the Kyrgyz Republic in an international friendly prior to tonight.
The Morocco A’ team was formed to participate in the African Championship of Nations (CHAN), which exclusively features players who are active in each country’s domestic leagues. While this is not the primary national football team of Morocco, which is ranked 29th in the world by FIFA, the A’ side was still a formidable opponent and included 12 overseas-based players as they utilised the match as part of preparations for the FIFA Arab Cup next month.
Their class was apparent from the start and a strike from Larbi Naji broke the deadlock on 17 minutes, before Walid Azaro made it 2-0 in the 38th minute. Yahya Jabrane scored a penalty on 47 minutes and Morocco A’ cranked up the pressure in the latter stages, pulling away to score four more times through Ismail El Haddad (62nd and 85th minutes), Adam Ennafati (75th minute) and Driss Fettouhi (80th minute).
There was a consolation goal for Tatsuma Yoshida’s charges, who found the net when Faris Ramli set up Nazrul Nazari to rifle a fierce angled drive into the top left corner on 88 minutes.
Five changes were made to the team that started against the Kyrgyz Republic, while seven substitutions were made in the second half by Tatsuma. The Lions were also without centre-backs Safuwan Baharudin and Irfan Fandi, and midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin as the trio had departed to return to club duties.
Ikhsan Fandi contests the ball against Morocco A’, 16 November 2021
“It was a hard experience and defeat leaves a bitter taste,” the Japanese told FAS.org.sg. “Morocco A’ is probably the toughest opponent we have faced since I took charge. They are of a different calibre and this is something we need to accept and understand; if we do not, it will be difficult for us (to know how) to improve, so this should be a good learning experience for us.”
While Tatsuma believes that the team has improved from their performances in June during World Cup qualifying, he pointed out that there are still areas they have to work harder on.
“Tonight’s opponents are the same level or maybe more (than Saudi Arabia, whom we faced in June),” he said. “While the team performance was not completely bad, the boys have to know that success (at international level) is down to the small details, such as whether we play the ball forward after we win it, and how we compete for the second ball; we are still getting used to (doing better) with such ‘second actions’.”
Tonight’s match at the Al Hamriyah Sports Club Stadium marked the end of the Lions’ time in Dubai, which is part of their preparations for next month’s ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2020. Having used both matches here to fine-tune the team’s tactics and strategies, Tatsuma believes the trip has been a beneficial one.
“Today was a good opportunity to play a strong opponent and we should not worry too much (about the result),” he said. “It has been a good training camp and we will have to build on everything we have learned here. As we look forward to the Suzuki Cup, we have to fully focus on during this final preparation phase when we get back as the team is aware of the hopes and expectations of the fans for us to do well in the tournament.”
The Lions are set to arrive in Singapore on Wednesday, where preparations will resume ahead of our first Group A match on 5 December against Myanmar.