SIN 1-3 THA - Ex-S.League stars shine for Thais (15 November 2009)

SINGAPORE – Bryan Robson made the ideal start in his first competitive match in charge of Thailand as they secured a 3-1 win over Singapore for their first victory in Group E of qualifying for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.

A brace from Sutee Suksomkit and another from Therdsak Chaiman, both of whom spent a number of seasons in Singapore’s S.League with Tampines Rovers and Singapore Armed Forces respectively, handed the Thais the three points while Fahrudin Mustafic scored a penalty for a late consolation for the Lions.

The victory means Thailand leapfrog Singapore in the standings and Robson's side have the chance to put further daylight between the two sides in the return encounter in Bangkok on Wednesday

Robson could not have hoped for a better start when his new charges took the lead in just the 10th minute.

Singapore midfielder Isa Halim handled a shot inside the area following a corner and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Sutee stepped up confidently to rifle the spot-kick into the back of the net (pictured).

But instead of the game sparking into life after that goal, chances for either side dried up and it was not until shortly after the half-hour mark when Singapore finally registered a shot as John Wilkinson hit an effort high and wide of the target.

Shaiful Esah floated a free kick beyond the left upright in the 42nd minute for the hosts before Surat Sukha fizzed a shot into the side netting just before the break when he had hoped to catch the keeper unawares.

Datsakorn Thonglao struck a sweet effort from 25 yards that goalkeeper Hassan Sunny did well to palm over the bar soon after restart as Thailand began the second half in a similar fashion to that they had the first.

Singapore should have done better soon after though when Wilkinson was sent clear on goal but the midfielder chose to square a pass for Aleksandar Duric when he was better placed to shoot.

The hosts again came close again just after the hour mark when Shahril Ishak played a fine defence-splitting pass to send Duric through but the veteran forward was ushered wide and his cut back into the box was cleared.

But Singapore were dealt a sucker-punch when Thailand scored a second on the counter-attack with 15 minutes remaining.

Suchao Nutnum whipped in a dangerous cross from the left and Therdsak timed his run to perfection to meet the ball with a vicious volley that gave Sunny no chance.
The victory was made certain in the 80th minute when Sutee was sent clear on goal and the striker made no mistake to fire a low shot beyond the goalkeeper.

Thailand's defence was breached for the first time in the qualifiers, however, when a Singapore player was brought down inside the area and Mustafic sent the spot kick into the top corner of the goal with six minutes remaining.