Singapore Lions Stunned The Red Eagles At Home
Prior to the game, Syrians team was busy taking photos away on the pitch while warming up. And that probably showed the mild complacent mood in the team as Singapore Lions was the obvious underdog
Prior to the game, Syrians team was busy taking photos away on the pitch while warming up. And that probably showed the mild complacent mood in the team as Singapore Lions was the obvious underdog in this AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 Qualifying game. At the end of the 90 minutes, the underdog won the battle.
Syria started strongly the moment the whistle was blown. A miscommunication between Singapore’s custodian Hassan Sunny (no.18) and defender Baihaikki Khaizan (no.5) as early as 3rd minute nearly presented Syria with a great chance to go ahead. However, once the Singapore’s defence settled down, the duties to contain the experienced Syrians were carried out decently.
Singapore’s captain Shahril Ishak (no.17) nearly opened the scoring for Singapore in the 11th minute when his header only manage to find the side netting. Two minutes later, Syria’s Ahmad Aldouni (no.9) saw his well-taken half shot parried away by Hassan Sunny. Syrians’ counter-attack was lethal but both Baihakki Khaizan and Safuwan Baharudin (no.21) stood up strongly just when Singapore needed them the most.
In the 26th minute, Ahmad Aldouni was once again put through on goal but Hassan Sunny was quick enough to get off his line, made himself big and prevented Syria from drawing the first blood. First half was entertaining as both teams went into the break with clean sheets.
Second half was a brand new game as Singapore’s head coach Bernd Stange brought in Shaiful Esah (no.3) to the left back and pushed Hafiz Abu Sujad (no.23) to the left midfield. Theses tactical moves proved to be vital as Hafiz became more lively in the midfield. Hafiz latched onto the great effort from Shahdan Sulaiman (no.8) on the right, squared the ball back to the running path of Khairul Amri (no.19) and Amri sided footed the ball into the net to put Singapore 1-0 up in the 61st minute!
With only less than 30 minutes remaining in the game, Syria’s head coach Mohammad Anas Makhlouf immediately brought on top strikers Reja Rafe (no.18) and Abdulfatah Al Agha (no.10) to salvage the situation. That did not seems to stop the confidence growing in the Singapore camp.
In the 81st minute, Singapore’s Gabriel Quak (no.7) scored with his first touch within seconds after coming on for Khairul Amri! There was an unbelievable instant flash-back of former Singapore’s legend “Super-Sub” Steven Tan coming on in the game against Brunei in 1993 where he scored with his first touch within seconds as well! Excellent finish by Singapore’s number-7! The crowd just went crazy at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Syria was not prepared to let Singapore continued with their celebration. Their top striker Reja Rafe showed his skill just right outside Singapore’s penalty box, tapped the ball to his favorite right and sent the ball to the back of the net beyond Hassan Sunny’s reach. In the 92nd minute, Hassan Sunny pulled off another great save to ensure Singapore’s victory!
This has to be one of the sweetest victories for some times. Especially for coach Bernd Stange, this long overdue victory could certainly ease some heavy loads from his aging shoulders. Although the young Adam Swandi (no.20) was not particularly influential in this game, his combination with Hariss Harun, Shahril Ishak, Khairul Amri and another new kid on the block Shafiq Ghani (no.13) for the new one-touch football looks promising.
Sometimes, lady luck plays an important role in football. If you don’t take chances, you will not get the goals. And if you do, you get the result. And tonight, the Lions should be proud of themselves. Well done, Lions!