National Team - Lions ● Sep 06, 2019

Lions frustrated in draw with Yemen


SINGAPORE, 5 SEPTEMBER 2019 – A second-half strike from Faris Ramli salvaged a 2-2 draw for the Lions against Yemen on Thursday night in their opening Group D match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2.

However, Tatsuma Yoshida’s charges will probably rue a missed opportunity to take all three points, having created enough chances to win the game in front of a 7,018-strong crowd at the National Stadium.

The visitors, who sit 20 rungs higher than Singapore at 142 in the FIFA rankings, were pinned back in the first 30 minutes by relentless pressing.

Safuwan Baharudin’s free-kick on two minutes was spilled by Salem Awad, who recovered in the nick of time to prevent a red shirt following up. Shahdan Sulaiman and Ikhsan Fandi then had shots blocked, while Salem made a fine save to deny Hariss Harun. Shahdan also forced Salem in action shortly after, while the Yemeni custodian was perhaps fortunate not to concede a penalty when he appeared to foul Faris.Ikhsan pulled out an overhead kick that flew over but did not waste his next chance on 27 minutes. After Faris released Shakir Hamzah with a neat backheel, the left-back hung a cross that Ikhsan headed past Salem for his sixth international goal.

But two lapses then cost the hosts, who were hit on the break by the speedy trio of Ahmed Al-Sarori, Abdulwasea Al-Matari and Mohsen Hasan. First, Ahmed’s cross from the right was smashed in on the volley by Abdulwasea on 34 minutes, before Mohsen broke the offside trap to lob Izwan Mahbud on 45 minutes.

“We let our focus and concentration drop, we let them come back… and made things difficult for ourselves,” Hariss acknowledged afterwards. “But the pleasing thing is that we tried to push (for more in the second half)… The challenge is to keep improving our game and we should never be satisfied. To play such a (pressing) game, what it demands from us – not even the top teams can do it for 90 minutes. We must know how to manage the game better and understand our roles, and what to do at various times.”
The Lions did come out firing after the break and took just six minutes to level. Faris won a header to send Ikhsan racing away and after the latter’s shot was saved, Faris was Johnny on the spot to tuck away the rebound for his third goal in his last five international games.

Ikhsan then went close with a few efforts and Faris nearly caught out Salem with a dipping volley from range, while substitute Gabriel Quak fired over after jinking in from the right.

Hami Syahin came on for his Singapore debut and added fresh impetus, but there was ultimately no way past Yemen for a third time as the Lions had to settle for a draw.

Singapore next face Palestine in their second group game on Tuesday, 10 September at Jalan Besar Stadium.

Singapore: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Zulqarnaen Suzliman (Nazrul Nazari 86’), Safuwan Baharudin, Baihakki Khaizan, Shakir Hamzah, Hariss Harun, Shahdan Sulaiman, Yasir Hanapi (Hami Syahin 78’), Shawal Anuar (Gabriel Quak 58’), Faris Ramli, Ikhsan Fandi.
Unused subs: Hassan Sunny (GK), Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Irwan Shah, Darren Teh, Amirul Adli, Hafiz Nor, Irfan Fandi, Fareez Farhan, Hazzuwan Halim.