JAKARTA, Nov 7 (Bernama) -- Defending champion Malaysia and arch rival Singapore shared the spoils in a drab goalless draw in the opening SEA Games men's Under-23 football competition at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium here today.
National Under-23 coach Ong Kim Swee had four players from the victorious Laos SEA Games squad in the starting line-up, namely skipper Baddrol Bakhtiar, Mohd Muslim Ahmad, Mohd Fadhli Shas and Mohd Asraruddin Putra Omar, but the quartet failed to provide the spark needed to edge the Lions.
Baddrol came closest with two shots but Singapore goalkeeper Mohd Izwan Mahbud saved his first attempt in the 26th minute while his second attempt 10 minutes later missed the target.
Singapore forward Muhd Fazli Ayop also tested goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat twice - with low grounders in the 12th and 40th minute but both were easily handled by Khairul.
In the 83rd minute, Baddrol had the best chance to clinch the winner but first-timer from a corner-kick missed the target by inches.
Despite the scoreless match, coach Ong Kim Swee was satisfied with the performance of his boys who were constantly jeered by the Indonesian fans who are also drawn in Group A.
"We took a very positive approach today and we controlled the play well compared with Singapore. As for the hostile Indonesian fans, we had expected such a reception," he said.
He added that the one point earned was a good start.
Malaysia play fancied Thailand on Wednesday while Singapore face Cambodia at the same venue.
Malaysia: Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, Mohamad Fadhli Mohd Shas, Mohd Asraruddin Omar, A. Thamil Arasu (Wan Zaharul Wan Zakaria), Baddrol Baktiar, G. Gurusamy, Ahmad Fakri Saarani, Mohd Fandi Othman, Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim (Izzaq Faris Ramlan), Abdul Shukor Jusoh, Mohamad Muslim Ahmad.
Singapore: Mohamad Izwan Mahmud, Muhammad Safuwan Baharuddin, Mohammad Afiq Yunos, Navin Neil Vanu, Safirul Sulaiman (Muhammad Hafiz Abu Sujad), Shahdan Sulaiman, Muhammad Irwan Shah Arismail (Muhammad Yasir Hanapi), Mohd Fadzil Ayob (Muhammad Khairul Nizam), Harris Harun, Muhammad Shahrir Hamzah, Muhammad Zulfahmi Mohd Arifin.