Singapore's hopes of a medal in the men's football tournament of the 31st Southeast Asian Games have been dealt a blow right from the off, although it could have been far worse as they came from two goals down to draw with Laos 2-2 in their Group B opener.
Laos, regarded as the weakest team in the group based on their FIFA world ranking, showed the greater endeavour from the opening whistle at the Thien Truong Stadium in Nam Dinh, and duly took the lead after 14 minutes.
Latching onto a pass 20 yards from, Ekkamai Ratxachak advanced just inside the area before lashing a ferocious shot into the top corner to break the deadlock.
Five minutes after halftime, the Laotians doubled their lead with the Singapore defence once again looking inattentive and too easy to carve apart, with Chony Wenpaserth emphatically finishing past Zaiful Nizam after being put through by Chanthavixay Khounthoumphone's probing through-pass.
Singapore did have their chances throughout the game with Shah Shahiran's deflected drive coming back off the bar, while Khairin Nadim forced a smart save down low from Laos goalkeeper Keo-Oudone Souvannasangso, although Zaiful also did play his role in ensuring the Lions were still in the contest with a handful of decent stops.
With a minute remaining, Singapore did finally get on the scoresheet when the Laotians' failure to clear their lines from an attack down the line allowed Glenn Kweh to pounce on a loose ball and smash a shot into the back of the net -- although it did look like it would be a mere consolation.
But in the 6th minute of injury time, the Singaporeans pulled off a remarkable comeback when Saifullah Akbar's flick-on header landed kindly for makeshift target man Jordan Emaviwe, who displayed a real striker's instinct to deftly flick the ball over the advancing Souvannasango to salvage a point for his side.