National Team - Lions ● Oct 13, 2018

Hariss, Gabriel on target as Singapore ease past Mongolia


Fandi Ahmad notched his second straight victory as National Team Head Coach after Singapore saw off Mongolia 2-0 on Friday night at Bishan Stadium.


Hariss Harun and Gabriel Quak struck in the final 20 minutes of the international friendly to seal a deserved victory, which could have been more had the Lions been more clinical.


The hosts dominated proceedings but spurned good openings in the first half as Iqbal Hussain – playing in the number ten role – curled narrowly wide on eight minutes, before Izzdin Shafiq and Zulqarnaen Suzliman shot wide from range.


Ikhsan Fandi was then played in by Quak but a heavy first touch allowed the Mongolian goalkeeper to collect the ball, while he will rue not being more accurate when his lob on 36 minutes went just over.


Izzdin and Iqbal both worked the goalkeeper again, with the latter also cracking another shot just wide and Fandi acknowledged the need to “polish” the team’s finishing.


“Our right side could have been more effective in the first 20, 25 minutes,” he said after the game. “We were attacking more on the left… usually our right and left side are both very lively.


“The important thing is that we want to focus on our finishing; defensively, we are quite okay but we (also) need to improve.”


Fandi also lamented the slow start, just like in the previous matches against Mauritius and Fiji, but was more pleased with the Lions’ display after the break, which also saw Huzaifah Aziz earn his first Singapore cap.


Iqbal once again went close, this time flashing a 30-yard free-kick narrowly past the right post on 62 minutes, before the deadlock was broken on 71 minutes from a set-piece.


Izzdin’s delivery from the right was headed back across goal by Safuwan Baharudin at the far post and when the ball was palmed out by Monkh-Erdene Enkhtaivan, Hariss was in the right place at the right time to flick it back into goal for his second strike in as many games.


Quak then capped an effervescent display on 82 minutes by finishing off a flowing team move that started with Izwan Mahbud releasing Faris Ramli on the left, who found the overlapping Shakir Hamzah. The left-back’s lung-busting run into the box was halted by a defender, but Quak was quick on the follow-up and cleverly lofted the loose ball over the Enkhtaivan from the edge of the box.


That settled matters and Fandi was also happy with how his charges coped against a Mongolian side who did not hold back in their challenges.


“We can see there is improvement in the attacking part,” he said. “Other than that, I thought we stood out very well against a very disciplined, physical side, which is not easy.


“The last three matches (we’ve played) are all very physical, which is good for us to experience and learn before our (AFF) Suzuki Cup (campaign) because not many teams are very physical like that.”


His counterpart, Michael Weiss, acknowledged that Singapore were worthy victors but believes there is still room for improvement.


“It could have been 0-0 if we are not giving these goals away; there’s still a lot of work ahead (for the Lions), I’d say,” the German said. “The coach knows best, he knows his players and he has chances to rectify this in the camp in Japan and the match against Cambodia, which will be tougher than today, for sure.”


But Fandi asserted that hard work is something that his side will not shirk from as they continue to build towards the Suzuki Cup opener on 9 November against Indonesia.


“I think importantly, they (players) know their roles… (we are)always trying to say, it’s about the team and discipline,” he said. “If we are tactically disciplined, I think we can create a lot of chances… We must believe in the team and I can see everybody is trying very hard.”


Singapore: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Zulqarnaen Suzliman (Nazrul Nazari 84’), Irfan Fandi, Safuwan Baharudin, Shakir Hamzah (Madhu Mohana 90’+4), Izzdin Shafiq, Hariss Harun (C) (Huzaifah Aziz 90’+1), Yasir Hanapi (Khairul Nizam 83’), Iqbal Hussain (Faris Ramli 72’), Gabriel Quak, Ikhsan Fandi (Khairul Amri 84’).
Unused subs: Hassan Sunny (GK), Zaiful Nizam (GK), Baihakki Khaizan, Ho Wai Loon, Zulfahmi Arifin, Jacob Mahler, Adam Swandi, Shahril Ishak.