National Team - Lions ● Mar 28, 2018
Lions fall to defeat in Taipei
A first-half strike condemned Singapore to a loss in their final AFC Asian Cup qualifier despite a spirited display
Singapore midfielder Yasir Hanapi tussles for the ball against Chinese Taipei in an AFC Asian Cup qualifier (Photo courtesy of Chinese Taipei Football Association)
SINGAPORE, 27 MARCH 2018 – V. Sundram Moorthy’s charges were unable to end their 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup qualifying campaign on a winning note after suffering a 1-0 loss away to Chinese Taipei.
The Lions had the opportunity to make it two wins in a row having come into the game on the back of a 3-2 friendly victory against Maldives last week, but could not find a way past their resolute opponents.
Sundram made two changes to the starting line-up as he brought in Anders Aplin for his first ever international start, while Izzdin Shafiq came in for Shahdan Sulaiman.
It was the Lions who had the first real chance of the match through Shawal Anuar, though his fierce drive from range flew straight at goalkeeper Pan Wen-chieh.
That was a rare opening in a first 20 minutes dominated by the hosts, though they did not threaten Hassan Sunny’s goal.
Instead, Singapore grew into the match and twice found themselves in good positions on the left through Faris Ramli and Yasir Hanapi, who could not pick out a team-mate.
Chinese Taipei then landed a sucker-punch on 36 minutes when Chen Po-liang strode onto Li Mao’s clever back-heel and struck a clinical finish past Hassan to break the deadlock.
The away side continued to press and should have equalised five minutes later. A neat turn from Izzdin Shafiq gave him space to release Faris Ramli, whose deflected cross was somehow missed by both Yasir Hanapi and Shawal with the goal at their mercy.
Izzdin then forced a good save from Pan on the stroke of half-time with a thumping left-footed effort from 35 metres that the custodian just about parried away.
The hosts, ranked 134th in the world, were happy to sit back and play on the break in the second half, which allowed the Lions to see more of the ball.
Wing-backs Nazrul Nazari and Shakir Hamzah sent in the crosses from out wide, but could not find someone in a red shirt to finish them off.
The Chinese Taipei defenders’ high line also frustrated Singapore, who were caught offside on numerous occasions.
Sundram brought on Safuwan Baharudin and Khairul Amri with 20 minutes left in a bid to increase the pressure, with Shahdan Sulaiman joining them on 82 minutes.
Their best chance to salvage something came in injury time as Irfan Fandi rose high to meet a cross, only to see his header drop agonisingly wide of the post with the goalkeeper rooted.
The Lions will now regroup and aim to get back to winning ways in the next international break.
SINGAPORE: Hassan Sunny, Irfan Fandi, Baihakki Khaizan, Anders Aplin, Nazrul Nazari, Hariss Harun (C), Izzdin Shafiq, Shakir Hamzah, Faris Ramli (Safuwan Baharudin 70’), Shawal Anuar (Shahdan Sulaiman 82’), Yasir Hanapi (Khairul Amri 70’).
Unused subs: Izwan Mahbud, Zaiful Nizam, Emmeric Ong, Zulfahmi Arifin, Hafiz Sujad, Benjamin Davis, M. Anumanthan, Adam Swandi, Ikhsan Fandi.