Iraq put seven past Singapore
Singapore finished their 2014 FIFA World Cup Asian Zone Qualifying campaign in Group A with a 7-1 loss at the hands of Iraq who finished as group leaders to make it through to the Fourth Round.
Hosted at the majestic Al Arabi Stadium in Doha, Qatar. Zico’s men came out of the blocks in top gear as forward Kerrar Jasim drilled a low grounder past Hassan Sunny in goal to give the host nation an early lead with just four minutes on the clock.
Seven minutes later, captain Younis Mahmood got Iraq’s second goal after taking on the Singapore defence before clipping the ball past a hapless Sunny in goal.
While the Lions attempted to claw their way back into the game, the Iraq offence was in full swing and with 20 minutes on the clock, Mahmood was brought down in the box and Hawar Mohammed stepped up to slot the ball into the net for a 3-0 lead.
The complexion of the game changed when a well-worked combination between Shahdan Sulaiman, Shahril Ishak and Isa Halim saw the latter break through and thumped the ball confidently past Mohammed Kassid to make it 3-1.
The fourth goal for Iraq came in the form of another penalty kick given by Oman referee, Abdullah Mohamed Al Hilali for a foul on Ali Erhaima and the subsequent spot-kick was duly converted by playmaker Nashat Akram.
Lions coach Radojko Avramovic switched things up in the second half as he brought on Fazrul Nawaz in place of defensive midfielder Isa Halim to give the team a more attacking look.
However, the storyline was similar as the first-half with Mustafa Kareem scoring the fifth goal with barely a minute after the interval.
Despite valiant attempts to break down the Iraqi back-line, the Lions failed to find an opening for the rest of the match and had to witness the magnificent Younis Mahmood score a hat-trick courtesy of two more goals in the 60th and 90th minute.
Speaking after the match, coach Radojko Avramovic was in a sombre mood as he addressed the reporters. He said: “Iraq came and outplayed us today. They showed why they have managed to qualify for the next round and their quality was obvious throughout the match. Today’s results around Asia also showed the gap between South East Asian nations and the Middle Eastern countries in terms of the standard of football.”
Captain Shahril Ishak was visibly disappointed but was quick to address the positives of the whole campaign. He said: “We tried to play but the result did not come. The World Cup qualification round is now over and we need to look forward together as a team in preparation for the next tournament. Throughout this past few months of playing in the qualifying stages, we have picked up invaluable experience and this can only be good for us in time to come.”
Goalscorer Isa Halim was equally optimistic when he added: “As a player representing Singapore, it is not a nice feeling to lose by this kind of scoreline. I may have scored in the game but I believe team work and staying tight as a unit is the only way forward. We have to take the positives from this whole campaign and use the experience we have picked up in preparation for the AFF Suzuki Cup at the end of the year.”
Iraq Starting Line-up: Mohammed Kassid(GK), Basem Abbas, Qusay Muneer, Nashat Akram, Younis Mahmood(C), Hawar Mohammed(Luay Salah 72’), Kerrar Jasim(Mustafa Kareem 29’), Salam Shaker, Ali Erhaima, Samal Saeed, Muthana Khalid Salih(Saad Abdulameer 88’)
Singapore Starting Line-up: Hassan Sunny(GK), Irwan Shah, Baihakki Khaizan, Daniel Bennett, Ruzaini Zainal(Delwinder Singh 54’), Mustafic Fahrudin, Shi Jiayi, Shahdan Sulaiman, Qiu Li(Agu Casmir 70’), Isa Halim(Fazrul Nawaz 45’), Shahril Ishak(C)