Singapore goes down to Bahrain in a friendly
Bahrain 3 – 1 Singapore
Manama, 1 February 2013: A brace from Bahrain’s speedy winger Mahmood Merza Alajmi (#14) and a goal from Sami Mohamed Alhusini (#19) were enough to see them through against Singapore in a friendly match at the Bahrain’s National Stadium in Riffa. Safuwan Baharudin scored one for the Lions in the 70th minute after a defensive mix-up allowed the centre defender to drill a shot pass Bahrain’s goalkeeper.
It did not take too long for Bahrain, ranked 37 places above Singapore in the Fifa world ranking, to score their first goal of the game. Mahmood Merza Alajmi (#14) was threatening the Lions’ defence in the early period and was rewarded with a goal in the 19th minute, after he was left unmarked in the penalty area. Singapore held up well towards the end of the first half, and had a couple of chances through Shahdan Sulaiman, Firdaus Idros and Fazrul Nawaz.
Singapore’s interim head coach V Sundramoorthy made a 10-man substitution at half time to give the Lions a run-out before the all-important against Jordan. Only Safuwan remained in the side that played the full match. The Lions showed much grit at the start of the second half, but Bahrain stayed on top of their game and was rewarded with another goal in the 57th minute through Mahmood Merza Alajmi. He pounced on the ball which rocketed off the cross bar and found the empty net for his second, and Bahrain’s second goal of the game.
The Lions breathed back into life after an hour of game play. Khairul Amri connected well from Zulfahmi Arifin’s cross from the right flank, but his header was well-saved by Bahrain’s goalkeeper. Sufiyan Anuar, who was put through on goal by Noh Rahman, almost lobbed the Bahrain’s goalkeeper after he found himself in a good position. However, it was Safuwan, who drilled a shot pass the Bahrain’s goalkeeper to reduce Singapore’s deficit by a goal.
Hafiz Rahim’s half volley effort could have put the Lions on level six minutes later, but his shot went just inches wide of the goal post. Just eight minutes before the end of normal time, the Lions were down to 10-man after Shakir Hamzah was involved in a disagreement with the referee when he was shown a yellow card for a tough challenge earlier. Bahrain immediately capitalized on the one-man advantage and scored their third goal of the game through Sani Mohamed Alhusini (#19) after his header powered pass Hassan Sunny.
Head coach V Sundramoorthy said after the game: “The boys have played their best and fight for every ball against a top team like Bahrain, and everybody is fighting hard to earn a starting place for the match against Jordan. There were a lot of positives from the team, but also know which areas we need to work much harder to improve and get ready for the next game against Jordan.”
“Firstly, the boys must know their roles and responsibilities with and without the ball, especially when they next play against a strong team like Jordan. They also have to be mentally-ready for hard running for the next 90 minutes against Jordan”, added V Sundramoorthy.
Captain Shahril Ishak said: “It has been a very humbling lession for us. We knew it was going to be a tough fight against one of the best teams in the Middle East. We worked very hard and tried to play to our strengths. I thought the team worked well together. We will take some time to reflect, to look at how we can improve ahead of our important game against Jordan.”
The Lions will be leaving for Amman tomorrow evening (Bahrain time) for their all-important Asian Cup 2015 qualifying match against Jordan on 6 February. The Football Association of Singapore (FAS), players, coaches and the backroom staff would like to extend their appreciation to the Bahrain’s Football Association for the warm hospitality throughout the Lions’ stay in Manama.
Starting line-up: Izwan Mahbud (Hassan Sunny, 45’), Ismail Yunos (Irwan Shah, 45’), Baihakki Khaizan (Daniel Bennett, 45’), Safuwan Baharudin, Shaiful Esah (Shakir Hamzah, 45’), Isa Halim (Noh Rahman, 45’), Firdaus Idros (Hafiz Rahim, 45’), Shahdan Sulaiman (Firdaus Kasman, 45’), Shahril Ishak (C) (Zulfahmi Arifin, 45’), Fazrul Nawaz (Khairul Amri, 45’; Juma’at Jantan, 88’), Erwan Gunawan (Sufiyan Anuar, 45’)
- Report by FAS media officer Alan Chiang in Manama, Bahrain