National Team - Lions ● Sep 25, 2022

Lions draw with India


Nazrul Nazari on the ball, 24 September 2022


HO CHI MINH CITY, 24 SEPTEMBER 2022 – The Singapore Men’s National Team ended their involvement in the Hung Thinh International Football Tournament 2022 on Saturday evening with a 1-1 draw against India.


Ikhsan Fandi broke the deadlock in the first half but the Lions were swiftly pegged back by Ashique Kuruniya’s finish, with neither side able to find a winner thereafter.


Takayuki Nishigaya was satisfied with the team’s response to the 4-0 defeat against Vietnam three days earlier, noting that the defensive shape was improved against a side ranked 55 places above the Lions at 104th.


“I am happy to see the effort and commitment,” he said. “Our defending was also good and because of that we were able to get confidence and play with rhythm, that was the difference between both games. Of course on the other hand, we have to improve more in terms of building up and attacking-wise. If we are able to improve our attack, we will be able to play better.”


The Japanese handed Ryhan Stewart his first international start and also welcomed the return of Irfan and Ikhsan Fandi at the Thong Nhat Stadium, with the pair missing out against Vietnam as they were recovering from injuries. Joshua Pereira was fielded in defence on his second cap, while Hazzuwan Halim also found a place in the line-up for the first time since June 2021.


Ikhsan Fandi celebrates after scoring, 24 September 2022


Liston Colaco was India’s biggest threat in the early stages, firing wide from a tight angle after a neat move before forcing Hassan Sunny – making his 100th appearance for Singapore – into a smart save with a fierce 20-yard effort.


The Lions had their chances, too. Shah Shahiran flashed an ambitious long-range effort wide before Ikhsan’s header off Stewart’s cross was well blocked by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.


Nazrul Nazari, impressive in a left wing-back role, headed off the line on the half-hour mark before Ikhsan put Singapore ahead seven minutes later. From around 22 yards out, the striker’s powerful free-kick took a wicked deflection off the wall and nestled into the far right corner for his 17th goal in 32 appearances.


Ryhan Stewart battling for the ball, 24 September 2022


However, Igor Štimac’s charges found the equaliser six minutes later. The legendary Sunil Chhetri capitalised on a stray pass and quickly played in Kuruniyan, who calmly slotted the ball beneath the onrushing Hassan.


Hassan had to be alert to tip over Kuruniyan’s angled drive shortly after the break before comfortably gathering Chhetri’s header, but that was as good as it got for India.


At the other end, the Lions’ had an appeal for handball in the penalty area turned down and Ikhsan had a header blocked, as the match fizzled out into a draw.


The team is set to return home tomorrow and expected to gather for a longer preparation period later in the year ahead of the ASEAN Football Federation Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022.


Singapore: Hassan Sunny (GK)(C), Irfan Fandi (Ryaan Sanizal 90’+2), Hariss Harun, Joshua Pereira (Amirul Adli 46’), Ryhan Stewart (Hafiz Nor 88’), Shah Shahiran, M. Anumanthan, Nazrul Nazari, Adam Swandi (Taufik Suparno 59’), Hazzuwan Halim (Glenn Kweh 59’), Ikhsan Fandi (Syed Firdaus Hassan 90’+2).
Unused subs: Zaiful Nizam (GK), Mukundan Maran (GK), Shahdan Sulaiman, Ho Wai Loon, Sahil Suhaimi.


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