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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Irfan Fandi says criticism affects Singapore SEA Games team

Centre-back Irfan Fandi admits that Singapore's struggling under-22 side are affected by growing criticism of their performances.

The Young Lions began their 2017 Southeast Asian Games' campaign with a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Myanmar in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.

It was their 12th loss in 17 matches since March, with Richard Tardy's side winning only three times in that period.

Home United defender Irfan, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Sunday and wore the captain's armband against Myanmar, spoke before the match about the team's growing band of doomsayers. 

"Yeah, [the criticism] affects everyone, you can see it sometimes after games," Irfan told The New Paper.

"But this is football -- you can't avoid critics and their comments.

"If we get a good result, everyone will be on our side.

"We've spoken to one another about this and we know if we don't want that [negativity], we have to give our best and show we want to fight."

The setback at Selayang Stadium was their second loss to the fast-improving Myanmar side in less than a month.

They have little time to recover with their second Group A match against tournament hosts, Malaysia, looming on Wednesday.

Singapore had some good moments against Myanmar, but paid the price for a slow start and conceding the opening goal from Aung Thu just before half-time. They had their chances to equalise in the second half before Aung Thu grabbed his second in the 61st minute.

"As the coach, I'm not happy with the result, but I'm also a little proud of these young players," Tardy told The New Paper.

Singapore 2017 SEA Games coach Richard Tardy
Coach Richard Tardy, left, is considering his options ahead of Wednesday's game against Malaysia.

"We didn't play the first half very well. We were a little afraid of the opponents, especially because they had beaten us [in the AFC U-23 qualifier].

"In the second half, we showed a good picture of Singapore football. Unfortunately, we made a mistake for the second goal ... which I can also say for the first goal.

"I think the first half belonged to Myanmar but, in the second half, we played much better. Unfortunately, we couldn't score."

Tardy will now consider his options for the must-win match against Malaysia at Shah Alam Stadium, with captain Shahrin Saberin coming into contention after being dropped for the Myanmar game.

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