Richard Tardy says Singapore 'disappeared' in SEA Games loss

Head coach Richard Tardy says Singapore lost to Malaysia in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games because they "disappeared" in the second half when they were overcome in the physical battle.

The Lions were in pole position to cause an upset for almost an hour on Wednesday night before succumbing to quickfire goals to surrender their lead, and almost certainly miss out on the semifinals.

A wonderful long-range goal from Home United's Muhammad Amiruldin put the visitors ahead in the first half at Shah Alam Stadium. But after Malaysia regrouped with fresh substitutes and tactics for the second half, the home side came home far too strongly for a 2-1 victory in Group A.

After losing 2-0 to Myanmar on Monday, Singapore are tied with Laos and Brunei at the bottom of the table. It seems that their dream of winning a SEA Games men's football gold medal will continue to be unfulfilled.

"We have good players in this team, and most of them will play in the next SEA Games. We did our best against Malaysia, but physically we disappeared and didn't press them as much," Tardy told ESPN FC.

"We had two tough opening games, and it took a lot out of the players. Now we have to win our next two games against Laos and Brunei. I still have believe in this team and players, whose average age is only 20."

Singapore were also disappointing at last month's AFC U23 Championship qualifiers with two defeats in three games, including a 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Australia.

Captain Irfan Fandi spoke of finding the "right foundation" in their final two games, and the need to "move on" after a disappointing campaign so far.

"I will speak to the boys to bounce back for the next game. Right now it's all about finding that right foundation. I know a lot of them are sad, but this is football and we have to move on," Irfan said.

"I think we gave it everything, but the boys were fatigued in the second half. We have to just stay together, and not listen to the comments and critics outside. I think we played well, but we were just unlucky."

At the 2015 edition, Singapore disappointed as host nation after managing to finish only third in their group, behind Myanmar and Indonesia.

Leaving the Malaysia Super League in 2015 might have contributed to the decline of Singapore football.

The now-defunct LionsXII were thriving in a more competitive league back then, and did well to clinch two trophies in their four-season stint from 2012-15.

Singapore must now overcome Laos and Brunei next Wednesday by big margins, while hoping Malaysia and Myanmar slip up, to have any chance of progressing to the last four.