FAS ● Sep 13, 2023
Singapore bounces back to claim victory against Chinese Taipei
Singapore players celebrating a goal against Tajikistan, September 2023.
SINGAPORE 12 SEPTEMBER 2023 – In the second of two international friendlies for the September FIFA window, Singapore showed that it had looked past the loss to Tajikistan as the Lions recorded a 3-1 over Chinese Taipei.
This marked the first meeting of these two sides since their encounter during the 2019 Asian Qualifying Tournament on March 27, 2018, where Chinese Taipei emerged victorious with a one-nil scoreline.
Singapore’s Head Coach, Takayuki Nishigaya, introduced five changes to the starting lineup following their previous match against Tajikistan. On the opposing side, Chinese Taipei’s Head Coach, Gary White, had reason to be optimistic as his squad entered the fixture on the back of an impressive three-match unbeaten run, including a hard-fought draw against Thailand.
A crowd of 2,189 fervent fans created a lively atmosphere at Bishan Stadium, setting the stage for an enthralling contest. From the outset, the Lions were spurred into action, dominating possession in the opening 15 minutes. The home side displayed greater initiative, while the Blue Wings adopted a more conservative approach, looking to exploit opportunities on the counterattack.
The Singapore fans supporting the Lions against Chinese Taipei, September 2023.
In the ninth minute, a brilliant through ball from Iqbal Hussain, off a pass by Song Uiyoung, released Joel Chew on the right flank. Chew’s cross into the box was expertly cleared by the Chinese Taipei defence, thwarting a potential threat.
The 24th minute witnessed another pivotal moment as Iqbal Hussain was brought down by the Chinese Taipei defence on the edge of the semi-circle. However, Zulfahmi Arifin’s subsequent free-kick attempt sailed high above the crossbar.
Mere moments later, Chinese Taipei nearly capitalized on a Singaporean defensive lapse, with Fong Chao Shi testing the reflexes of goalkeeper Hassan Sunny, who produced a breathtaking one-handed save.
The Blue Wings were the first to break the deadlock when in the 29th minute, forward Ange Samuel Kouame dived to head in Fong’s well-placed cross, giving Chinese Taipei the lead.
Undeterred, the Lions displayed renewed urgency, orchestrating several impressive passages of play. Their efforts bore fruit when Song Uiyoung calmly slotted home the equaliser from the penalty spot in the 42nd minute, following a foul on Iqbal by Chen Ting-yang.
The second half continued to offer excitement, with Singapore launching a swift counterattack from a corner in the 46th minute. Ko Yu Ting unleashed a powerful shot, but Hassan Sunny, in his 107th appearance as the national custodian, once again came to Singapore’s rescue with a superb save.
The tide turned in the hosts’ favour when centre back Lionel Tan notched his third goal in six international appearances, connecting with Zulfahmi’s precise free-kick delivery in the 65th minute to put Singapore in the lead.
Substitute Shawal Anuar added a third goal as the nippy forward, stole possession from the opponents’ throw-in before embarking on a breathtaking solo run that culminated in his ninth international goal for the country.
Nishigaya was pleased with the result as the team now looks forward to next month’s Round 1 of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2026™ and AFC Asian Cup against Guam. He said: “I am pleased with the way the players responded especially after the loss against Tajikistan. They showed that they have the mental strength to come back from being a goal down and more importantly we were able to capitalise on the chances that we created. This match is over, and we now need to focus on next month’s World Cup qualifier against Guam.”
Coach Nishigaya at the post-match press conference, September 2023.
Man of the Match, Lionel, was bullish about the team’s chances and insisted that there was no need to hit the panic button just yet. “As players we need to take responsibility for our performance on the pitch. Coaches and assistant coaches can only do so much to prepare for games but at the end of the day, it is about how hungry the players are and whether we are able to carry out the tactics effectively. So, the pressure should also be on us if not more.”
Lionel paid tribute to the manner in which his teammates rallied after going down a goal against Chinese Taipei: “We knew what needed to be done and we kept our composure while seeking to get back into the game. I realise that this doesn’t happen every game and sometimes results don’t go our way but as players, we always go into every game with the desire to win. No player goes into any game already considering defeat as an option.”
Singapore: Hassan Sunny (GK) (C), M. Anumanthan, Lionel Tan, Jacon Mahler, Zulqarnaen Suzliman (Hafiz Nor 86’), Shakir Hamzah (Christopher Van Huizen 46’), Song Uiyoung (Hami Syahin 58’), Zulfahmi Arifin (Shahdan Sulaiman 77’), Shah Shahiran, Joel Chew (Shawal Anuar 46’), Iqbal Hussain (Hariss Harun 58’)
Unused subs: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Zharfan Rohaizad (GK), Amirul Adli, Ryhan Stewart, Daniel Goh, Faris Ramli
CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT
FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE