Singapore's Duric dents Thai hopes (19 November 2009)
Singapore stunned Thailand 1-0 in an Asian Cup qualifier at Rajamangala National Statium last night handing Bryan Robson his first defeat as national coach.
Serbian-born Aleksandar Duric headed home the winner after 38 minutes as the Lions leapfrogged Thailand to second place in Group E.
After four games, Singapore have six points and Thailand five. Leaders Iran, who have seven points from three matches, travel to bottom side Jordan on Sunday.
The top two teams from each of the five qualifying groups advance to the 2011 finals in Qatar.
Thailand will next host Jordan in January and go to Iran in March while Singapore will be at home against Iran and meet Jordan in Amman.
Coming into last night's game, Singapore badly needed a win to keep alive their hopes of securing their first-ever Asian Cup berth.
The visitors played much better than when they suffered a 3-1 home defeat against the Thais on Saturday in Robson's first competitive match in charge of Thailand.
Robson's men dominated for long periods before some 30,000 fans but it was Singapore who opened the scoring.
Duric capitalised on poor defending for the goal, beating Thailand goalkeeper Kittisak Rawangpa to head a corner kick into the empty net.
Kittisak was deputising for first choice goalkeeper Sinthaweechai (formerly Kosin) Hathairattanakool, who was suspended.
Thailand missed several chances in the first half with their best opportunity coming just before half-time.
Striker Teerasil Dangda was through on the left side with just goalkeeper Hassan Sunny to beat, but he dragged his shot across the goal.
Thailand began the second half in desperate search of an equaliser but it was Singapore who almost doubled their lead in the 67th minute when Mohammad Khairul broke through but saw his effort roll wide.
Thailand's game became more lively with the introduction of forward Teerathep Winothai and midfielder Therdsak Chaiman.
They created numerous chances but lacked sharpness up front. Singapore also had opportunities to see off Thailand on the counter-attack.
Robson was disappointed by his team's defending.
''We knew all about Singapore's set pieces. We spoke about it and worked on it in training. On the goal, our marking was wrong,'' said the former England captain.
''I'm a bit disappointed about the goal we conceded. That game should have been 0-0.''
But Robson, who took over the Thailand job from former England colleague Peter Reid last month, said Singapore had been well-prepared for the match.
''I have to give credit to them but we should have done better. We did not underestimate them. We lost because we lost concentration and our marking was not good,'' he said.
However, the former Manchester United skipper was still optimistic about the future.
''I feel that the squad we've got is capable of getting good results. We still have a good chance,'' he said.
''We will meet Jordan in January and we must get all three points.''
Singapore coach Raddy Avramovic praised his side's performance.
''We played with one extra defender,'' said the Serb. ''So they didn't have many opportunities in the penalty box.''
The Serb was also pleased that his team avenged their 3-1 mauling on Saturday.
''I told them before the game that after a bad game you have to bounce back,'' he said.
''This competition is open and if we win our next game, we have a great opportunity to advance. I think Singapore and Thailand are the two best teams in Southeast Asia.''
GROUP E STANDINGS
P W D L GF GA Pts
Iran 3 2 1 0 7 0 7
Singapore 4 2 0 2 4 10 6
Thailand 4 1 2 1 3 2 5
Jordan 3 0 1 2 1 3 1