In what was a physically challenging game for Laos, they stood their ground against a Singapore side whose captain Irfan Fandi stood almost two heads taller than Laotian skipper Souk Aphone Vongchiengkham.
Singapore head coach Fandi Ahmad fielded a strong side for the game, naming Singapore Premier League player of the year Faris Ramli and Norwegian side Raufoss striker Ikhsan Fandi in the lineup.
And Irfan Fandi, with 23 senior international caps to his name, commanded the backline with another towering centre-back, Lionel Tan.
Singapore had set themselves lofty ambitions going into the game, aiming to make it to the knockout stages from their “Group of Death’. On the other hand, Laos would be more than content with getting more than three points at this group stage — their tally at the 2017 Games.
But based on the game, it was clear that Laos could aim higher than that, resolutely defending against Singapore’s offensive waves.
And while the result did not go Fandi’s way, it was a welcome reunion with Laos head coach and ex-teammate V. Sundramoorthy.
Laos face Vietnam next, who served Brunei a 6-0 thrashing in their opening game. For Singapore, they face an in-form Indonesian side who defeated defending champions Thailand 2-0.
This article first appeared on Fox Sports Asia.