Defending champions Singapore completed the preliminary round unbeaten when they defeated hosts Indonesia 2-0 in a Group A match of the AFF Suzuki Cup at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium here tonight.

Two early set-piece goals from the Lions, once in each half, ruined Indonesia's hopes of finising as the group champions. As the group champions, Singapore, who will likely avoid an early showdown with Group B leaders Thailand, will have the privilege of playing the return semifinal leg at home. Indonesia will play their first leg semifinal match in Jakarta on Dec 16.

Singapore silenced the crowd just two minutes into the match when defender Baihakki Khaizan, from a corner kick, headed in the opener. It was the same story five minutes into the second half when Shi Jiayi's freekick crashed into the Indonesian goal. Indonesia had to be credited for their tremendous efforts to try and come back each time Singapore scored. After the opening goal, the Indonesian players took the fight and controlled the rest of the first half. Indonesia fought courageously after Jiayi's goal and had several chances but failed to put the finishing touches. The Singapore defence of Daniel Bennet, Emuejeraye Precious, Baihakki and Mohd Noh Rahman combined well and contributed to the failure of the Indonesian strikers to get through.

When Malaysian referee R. Krishnan blew to start the game, the last thing anyone expected was another quick goal from Singapore, who had scored in the first-minute against Myanmar two days ago. But Defender Baihakki Khaizan chose to prove the game with a stunning start and headed his team ahead. For the next 44 minutes, including extratime, it was mainly Indonesia who controlled proceedings. Their forwards desperately tried to get the equaliser but failed to find the mark. Four-goal hero Budi Sudarsono, Bambang Pamungkas and Arif Suyono were constantly lurking around the box but were unable to get that all important shot in. Arif especially was quick along the right flank and was a bother to Bennett and John Wilkinson. In the last minute, Bambang was just off the mark as his header went wide.

The situation got worse for Indonesia soon after the break. Singapore struck another quick goal, this time four minutes into the second half, this time through midfielder Shi Jiayi. The Chinese-born player curled the freekick around the wall and into the bottom corner of the Indonesian goal, well beyond the reach of Markus. In the last few minutes, Indonesia could have pulled themselves back into the match but Aliyudin fumbled his shot in front of goal.

Meanwhile, in the other Group A match held simulataneously in Bandung, Myanmar finished third in the standings after edging Cambodia 3-2. Myanmar led 2-1 at the break.

Next fixtures;

10/12/08 - Group B
17:00 : Thailand v Malaysia
19:30 : Vietnam v Laos


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