FAS ● Jun 17, 2023
Singapore and Papua New Guinea play out a 2-2 stalemate in Coach Nishigaya’s first home match
Irfan Najeeb (jersey number 3) in action against Papua New Guinea.
SINGAPORE, 16 JUNE 2023 – The Singapore National Football team endured a night of disappointment on their return to the National Stadium as they were held to a frustrating 2-2 draw against Papua New Guinea in the first of two international ‘A’ friendly matches lined up in the June international break.
In a rematch of the tie that Singapore won by two goals to one back in September 2014, the hosts were looking to mark National Team Head Coach Takayuki Nishigaya’s first home match with a convincing victory against the 159th ranked Papua New Guinea. With the team from Oceania only arriving in Singapore less than 24 hours before the match and having limited preparation time, the home side sought to capitalize by seeking an early advantage over the visitors straight from the kick-off.
Lions forward Shawal Anuar was found wanting when he missed a couple of gilt-edged chances in the first 15 minutes after he was put through on goal but ended up putting the ball over the bar each time. The breakthrough finally came in the 23rd minute when Shakir Hamzah nodded back a Singapore corner across the penalty box for Adam Swandi to find the back of the net, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
Singapore enjoyed the lion’s share of possession despite losing midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin in the 35th minute. Captain Hariss Harun took to the field and slipped into the centre of the park to maintain control of the game. However, the game turned on its head as both sides committed a series of unforced errors resulting in three quick-fire goals in succession before the break.
Papuan midfielder Ati Kepo took advantage of some slack defending by the Lions’ defence to fire an equalizer for his side in the 42nd minute. The goal only galvanized the Singapore side as they went all out to regain the lead. And they were duly rewarded when Shawal latched onto a through ball by Hariss and found himself one on one with the Papuan goalkeeper. This time around, the Lion City Sailors forward made no mistake and dinked the ball over the advancing Ronald Warisan to give Singapore a 2-1 lead.
The lead however lasted for a minute as a mistake at the back cost Singapore the lead again. In an attempt to play out from the back, Lions defender Shakir Hamzah hit the ball against Papuan striker Raymond Gunemba and the ball ricocheted past Hassan Sunny and into the Singapore goal to draw the Papuans level and bring the eventful first half to a close.
Supporters showing their support for the Lions against Papua New Guinea.
The second half saw Singapore pushing forward with renewed vigor and determination to secure victory on home soil. They launched a barrage of attacks, constantly testing the Papua New Guinea defense who began to tire as the match wore on. However, led by the resilient Warisan in goal, the visitors’ defence stood resolute and managed to thwart every Singapore attack that came their way.
Coach Nishigaya tried to inject fresh impetus into the game with a string of changes including an international debut for Tanjong Pagar midfielder Naqiuddin Eunos. It would prove futile for the Lions as they would go on to squander a couple of late chances to win the game. As the final whistle blew, it left the Lions ruing missed opportunities and the disappointing feeling despite the result being a draw.
Coach Takayuki Nishigaya answering questions during the post-match conference.
Coach Nishigaya will be hoping for a better showing in their next friendly match as the Lions take on Solomon Islands on Sunday, 18 June at the National Stadium.
Singapore : Hassan Sunny (GK), Irfan Najeeb (Daniel Goh 46’), Shakir Hamzah, Lionel Tan, Glenn Kweh (Ho Wai Loon 81’), Shah Shahiran, Zulfahmi Arifin (Hariss Harun 34’), Adam Swandi (Amirul Adli 46’), Hafiz Nor (Naqiuddin Eunos 70’), Shawal Anuar (Amy Recha 46’), Faris Ramli
Unused subs: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), M Anumanthan, Joel Chew, Hami Syahin, Jordan Vestering
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