SINGAPORE â€” Chaaryl Cappuis (pic) converted a penalty with two minutes remaining to give Thailand a 2-1 victory over host and defending champion Singapore on Sunday in their opening match of the Suzuki Cup.
The result at the National Stadium was the first time Singapore has lost an opening match of Southeast Asia’s premier soccer tournament in its last five editions.
Tournament favorite Thailand, which lost to Singapore in the final of the 2012 competition, opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a goal from Mongkol Thosakrai after a quickly taken throw-in caught the Singapore defenders unaware. Khairul Amri headed in an equalizer for Singapore in the 19th.
But with the game heading for a draw, Swiss-born Cappuis shot low past Hassan Sunny after the referee ruled that Safuwan Baharuddin had handled the ball off a cross.
“Singapore are a good team who have already been champions four times and we expected a difficult game,” Thailand coach Kiatisuk Senamuang said. “We knew that it would not be easy and we tried to just get one point but we got lucky … right before the end of the match.”
The game was Singapore’s first competitive fixture at the stadium, which has been criticized for the quality of the pitch. The team had avoided training at the stadium to spare the grass ahead of the match.
In Sunday’s other Group B match, Malaysia drew 0-0 against Myanmar after being reduced to 10 men in the first half when Gary Steven Robbat received a second yellow card. That match, played at the Jalan Besar stadium in another part of Singapore, was delayed for one hour due to lightning.
On Tuesday, Group A teams kick off in Vietnam, when Indonesia meets the Philippines and Laos plays Vietnam.
The two-legged final takes place on Dec. 17th and Dec. 20th. – AP