National Team - Lions ● Dec 17, 2022
Lions see off Maldives in final pre-tournament friendly
Singapore celebrate Ilhan Fandi’s (no. 19) opener, 17 December 2022
SINGAPORE, 17 DECEMBER 2022 – A second-half brace from Shawal Anuar helped the Singapore Men’s National Team defeat the Maldives 3-1 this evening at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
In his first home match as head coach, Takayuki Nishigaya saw his charges given a stiff test by the visitors – ranked 154th, six spots above the Lions – but the Japanese was pleased with how they eventually took victory in front of 3,128 spectators.
Ilhan Fandi broke the deadlock after just four minutes by heading in Christopher van Huizen’s cross from the left for his first international goal on his fifth cap, but Ibrahim Mahudhee exploited some slack defending to head in an equaliser at a corner in the 17th minute. The Maldives then had the upper hand and hit the bar a few minutes before the break, which the Lions entered sans Ikhsan Fandi due to injury. Adam Swandi also came off with a knock in the second half.
“I am very proud of my players because we played as a team until the last second; we had some injury (setbacks) but we did not lose concentration,” Nishigaya said. “The players’ commitment and desire (to win) saw us score the goals (in the second half).
“I want us to continue the way we are playing now but we also have to check on how our upcoming opponents (in the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022) will play (and adjust accordingly), as well as (recover in terms of) our physical condition.
“Of course, we have to improve our set-piece defending and also (our defensive structure) before that (goal).”
Ilhan Fandi scored his first international goal in his fifth appearance, 17 December 2022
Donning their new home kits for the first time, the Lions stepped up the intensity after the break and half-time substitute Song Uiyoung nearly made an immediate impact with a fierce effort that was parried away.
No matter. Four minutes later, Shawal met Song’s deep cross from the left with a deft header at the far post for his second international goal in as many matches. It was all Singapore and Shahdan Sulaiman had a free-kick pushed behind before Amy Recha headed wide from another dangerous Van Huizen cross.
The men in red kept pushing and were rewarded with a third through Shawal, who was in the right place at the right time to bury Ryhan Stewart’s cross from close range in the 87th minute.
Shawal Anuar applauds the fans after scoring Singapore’s second goal, 17 December 2022
“Everyone (in the team) has a winning mentality and Coach Gaya believes in every one of us,” said the 31-year-old forward, who doubled his international tally to four goals. “When I was called upon (to replace Ikhsan), I did my best to put the ball in the back of the net and I am very happy (to help the team).”
The result means that the Lions head into their AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 Group B opener against Myanmar on 24 December on a winning note, and Nishigaya called on the fans to roar the side on.
Irfan Fandi makes a tackle, 17 December 2022
“I am very happy tonight (in my first home match) and we always want to show good performances for the fans – that is why I am here,” he said. “We have home advantage (in the next match) and we want to play (together) with the fans.”
Tickets for the clash against Myanmar are still available for purchase at fas.org.sg/tickets!
Singapore: Zaiful Nizam (GK), Hariss Harun (C), Shakir Hamzah (Irfan Fandi 67’), M. Anumanthan, Hafiz Nor (Ryhan Stewart 46’), Shahdan Sulaiman, Shah Shahiran (Song Uiyoung 46’), Christopher van Huizen, Ilhan Fandi (Zulfahmi Arifin 52’), Adam Swandi (Amy Recha 67’), Ikhsan Fandi (Shawal Anuar 43’).
Unused subs: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Hassan Sunny (GK), Nazrul Nazari, Amirul Adli, Taufik Suparno, Joshua Pereira.