National Team - Lions ● Mar 21, 2024

Post-Match Report: FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 Qualifiers – Singapore vs. China PR


Substitutes Jacob Mahler (left, wearing jersey number 5), and Faris Ramli (right, wearing jersey number) contributed to the home team’s equalizing effort in the second half, March 2024.



SINGAPORE, 21 MARCH 2024 – In an electrifying encounter at the Singapore National Stadium, the Lions under the newly minted stewardship of Tsutomu Ogura, marked an unforgettable night in their World Cup qualifying campaign, drawing 2-2 against China PR. Demonstrating immense resolve, the Singapore squad overturned a two-goal deficit, instilling a renewed sense of hope and belief among the home supporters.



The game was always going to be viewed as a pivotal moment for Ogura, faced with the task of navigating past performance barriers that have historically challenged the team. And it did not look like it would change anytime soon as the match commenced with China asserting dominance early on, capitalizing on Singapore’s defensive lapses. Wu Lei emerged as a significant threat, breaking the deadlock in the 10th minute with an unmarked header, following a good cross from Wang Shangyuan. The hosts almost suffered another setback in the 29th minute when Nazrul Nazari was harshly adjudged to have committed a handball foul when attempting to block a shot from Wu. The latter stepped up to take the penalty but his attempt was saved by Singapore custodian Hassan Sunny. Singapore attempted to make several forays into the opponents’ half in an attempt to level the score, but their efforts were thwarted when Wu doubled the lead for the visitors in added time of the first period, exploiting a chaotic clearance from the Singapore defence.



Singapore custodian Hassan Sunny (in yellow) makes a crucial penalty save, March 2024


The second half would be the turning point as the Lions came out with a clear sense of purpose, no doubt after a strong half-time talk by Ogura. The Japanese showed his tactical acumen by making two key substitutions, introducing Faris Ramli and Jacob Mahler, who both became instrumental in altering the game’s complexion. Faris’s brilliant control off a sweeping ball from Lionel Tan, and subsequent strike in the 53rd minute breathed life into the Singaporean comeback. This was followed by Mahler’s crucial equalizer in the 81st minute, sending the home crowd into raptures.


Singapore’s Ikhsan Fandi with China PR’s Zhu Chenjie in action, March 2024


The match was not devoid of contentious decisions, notably a clear penalty denied to Singapore in the closing stages of added time, which could have potentially sealed a remarkable victory. Zhu Chenjie’s infringement on Safuwan Baharudin in the box went unpunished, leaving the Lions to rue what might have been.



While Ogura remained reserved in his post-match sentiments, emphasizing the hunger for victory over contentment with a draw, the performance does offer optimism as to the direction that Singapore football can take should the players build upon this performance. His counterpart, Branko Ivankovic, meanwhile acknowledged the toughness of the encounter, expressing disappointment over the squandered lead but conceding that the draw was a fair result given the balance of play.


Shawal Anuar in action, March 2024. 


Despite picking up their first point in three games Singapore remains at the bottom of Group C while China is tied with Thailand on four points. Nevertheless, the Lions’ performance has reignited the flame of hope among its supporters through their display of heart, grit, and determination against a higher-ranked opponent setting a promising precedent for the challenges ahead. The forthcoming rematch in Tianjin is eagerly anticipated, with everything to play for.



Singapore: Hassan Sunny (GK), Zulqarnaen Suzliman (Faris Ramli 46’), Ryhan Stewart (Song Uiyoung 77’), Nazrul Nazari, Lionel Tan (Jacob Mahler 67’), Safuwan Baharudin, Glenn Kweh, M. Anumanthan (Harhys Stewart 46’), Hariss Harun (C), Shah Shahiran, Ikhsan Fandi (Shawal Anuar, 67’)
Unused subs: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Irfan Fandi, Fairuz Fazli, Hafiz Nor, Joel Chew, Ilhan Fandi





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