Faris Ramli fires Singapore to victory over Myanmar in AYA Bank Cup
V. Sundramoorthy's reign as Singapore head coach began on a positive note when his side toiled to a 1-0 win over host nation Myanmar in their opening match of the 2016 AYA Bank Cup on Friday evening.
Faris Ramli scored in the 34th minute at the Thuwanna Stadium in Yangon to hand the Lions the victory, setting up a meeting with Vietnam in Monday's final.
However, the result didn't reflect the home side's dominance of possession, with Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny in inspired form to ensure a clean sheet.
His first involvement came as early as the third minute when he raced off his line to deny Than Paing before smothering a low effort by Maung Maung Lwin nine minutes later.
The Army United custodian had to be alert once more in the 16th minute. Maung Lwin floated a dangerous free kick into the box, only to see Hassan clawing away Aung Zaw's deft header that was headed for the corner.
Singapore threatened for the first time four minutes before the half-hour mark when Safuwan Baharudin did well to get in behind Myo Ko Tun at the far post, but his shot was saved by Kyaw Zin Phyo from point-blank range.
Eight minutes later, the Lions remarkably took the lead against the run of play when a raking pass from Baihakki Khaizan was intelligently dummied by Fazrul Nawaz into the path of Faris. The Home United winger clinically dispatched a first-time shot into the back of the net.
Still, Myanmar refused to be deterred, despite trailing at the break and continued to display the same energy and endeavour in the second half.
A long-range drive from Yan Aung Kyaw in the 58th minute skipped off the slippery pitch and forced Hassan into a clever save. Soon after, he produced another stop to keep out Kyi Lin's 25-yard effort.
By then, the visitors looked content to attack on the counter. And it nearly worked to perfection in the 77th minute when Gabriel Quak found space down the left and skipped past the onrushing Zin Phyo before squaring a pass to Fazrul. But the 31-year-old somehow fired wide from four yards out with plenty of the unguarded goal to aim for.
Despite their best efforts, Gerd Zeise's charges were just unable to carve out a clear scoring chance and their final opportunity two minutes from time was another speculative attempt. Hassan refused to be beaten as he parried Aung Thu's fierce drive to safety, allowing Singapore to hold out and hand Sundram a winning start to life in charge of the Lions.
Myanmar: Kyaw Zin Phyo, Myo Ko Tun (Kyi Lin 46'), Aung Zaw, Zaw Min Tun, Hein Thiha Zaw, David Htan, Ye Ko Oo, Yan Aung Kyaw, Maung Maung Lwin (Kyaw Ko Ko 60'), Than Paing (Suan Lam Mang 78'), Aung Thu
Singapore: Hassan Sunny, Nazrul Nazari, Hariss Harun, Baihakki Khaizan, Hafiz Abu Sujad, Safuwan Baharudin (Zulfahmi Arifin 90'), Izzdin Shafiq, Gabriel Quak (Zulfadli Zainal Abidin 84'), Azhar Sairudin (Yasir Hanapi 60'), Faris Ramli, Fazrul Nawaz