National Team - Lions ● Jun 08, 2021

Lions go down to Uzbekistan


Yasir Hanapi on the ball against Uzbekistan, 7 June 2021


RIYADH, 8 JUNE 2021 – The Lions fell to a second defeat in as many games last night at King Fahd International Stadium with a 5-0 loss to Uzbekistan.


Jaloliddin Masharipov’s first-half double and Eldor Shomorudov’s strike on the stroke of half-time gave the Uzbeks a comfortable half-time lead and they added two more goals after the break in the penultimate Group D match of Singapore’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and AFC Asian Cup China 2023™ Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 campaign.


Tatsuma Yoshida, who made five changes to the line-up, including a first start for Hafiz Sujad since November 2017, was satisfied with the spirit of the team but acknowledged that the Lions were outclassed by an opponent ranked 86th by FIFA – 73 spots above Singapore.


“Their fighting spirit and tactical level was quite good, better than in the previous match (against Palestine), but Uzbekistan were better,” he said after the game. “They were doing well but (conceding) the first goal left us a bit down… We can learn from them (Uzbekistan); they have quality but they were also running a lot… and we are not used to that kind of intensity.


“We have to keep going… (it is) my strategy and management that is not good. If we want to score, we have to carry the ball into the attacking side (third).


“We have reasons (for not doing well) but I have no excuse. We have to improve our playing intensity.”


Tatsuma Yoshida after the game against Uzbekistan, 7 June 2021 (Photo: Saudi Arabian Football Federation)


The Lions started well enough against Uzbekistan but were undone on six minutes when Ikromjon Alibaev’s inch-perfect pass found Masharipov, who finished clinically from 10 yards. Odil Ahmedov hit the bar from range before Izwan Mahbud made a brilliant save to deny Shomorudov. The Singapore goalkeeper denied the Uzbek star a second time on 34 minutes, but was then powerless to stop Masharipov from firing in the rebound.


Shomorudov got his goal in the first minute of added time and Odil Akhmedov added another five minutes after the break. The Lions persevered and had headed attempts through Baihakki Khaizan and Faris Ramli, while Izwan pulled off a few more saves. With one minute left in regulation time, Uzbekistan got a fifth when Irfan Fandi was unfortunate to see his headed clearance end up in his own goal.


The result meant Singapore remain fourth on seven points, behind third-placed Palestine on goal difference. Both teams have one game left. Third place guarantees a spot in the Asian Cup qualifying third round, while the four best fourth-placed teams across all groups will advance to the same stage; the remaining four fourth-placed teams will advance to the Asian Cup qualifying play-off round.


Tatsuma’s charges face leaders Saudi Arabia next and he urged the team not to throw in the towel.


“We just have to play and just try to do our best – that’s all,” he said.


Singapore: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Madhu Mohana (Zulqarnaen Suzliman 67′), Baihakki Khaizan, Shakir Hamzah, Nazrul Nazari (Shawal Anuar 46′), Shahdan Sulaiman, Zulfahmi Arifin (Hami Syahin 46′), Hafiz Sujad (Irfan Fandi 29′), Hazzuwan Halim (Saifullah Akbar 70′), Faris Ramli, Yasir Hanapi (C).
Unused subs: Zaiful Nizam (GK), Hassan Sunny (GK), M. Anumanthan, Amirul Adli, Hafiz Nor, Ilhan Fandi, Gabriel Quak.


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