National Team - Lions ● Mar 29, 2022
Lions defeat Philippines for second straight win in FAS Tri-Nations Series 2022
The Lions celebrate after scoring the first goal, 29 March 2022
SINGAPORE, 29 MARCH 2022 – As far as interim head coaching stints go, there are not many better than Nazri Nasir’s time in charge of the Lions.
The Singapore legend led his charges to a second victory as in many matches in the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Tri-Nations Series 2022 on Tuesday night as they dispatched the Philippines 2-0 at the National Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub.
It meant that the 51-year-old remains undefeated in four matches as coach of the Singapore Men’s National Team, having edged Malaysia 2-1 on Saturday in the opener of the Series to add to the victory against the Harimau Malaya and draw with Oman in the AIRMARINE Cup 2019 during his first interim spell.
Tonight, goals from Safuwan Baharudin and Shawal Anuar got the job done, and Nazri showed his delight after the match. “I am proud of the players,” he said. “The two games were not easy. From what I see, we have a group of experienced players like Hassan (Sunny), Shahdan (Sulaiman), Hariss (Harun) and Safuwan, (and) they can guide the younger players. I only had the team (together) for four or five days (before the tournament) and we needed to understand each other, and they know what I want (from them). Within the short period, they have responded very well and I have nothing else to say other than that I am very proud and happy to be coaching these players; it means a lot to me.”
Safuwan Baharudin celebrates, 29 March 2022
Having beaten the Azkals 2-1 on the same ground last December in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup group stage, the hosts got on course to repeat the feat in the 10th minute when Safuwan was allowed the freedom of Kallang to meet Shahdan Sulaiman’s corner from the right with a thumping header into the top left corner for his 13th international goal.
Scott Cooper’s men, ranked 32 places above Singapore by FIFA at 129th, looked to respond and Bienvenido Marañón was unfortunate to see his first-time volley from 15 yards come off the post in the 18th minute. But the red shirts, buoyed by the majority of the 9,183 fans, pushed for a second and Neil Etheridge did well to hold onto shots from Nazrul Nazari – earning his 50th cap – and then Safuwan.
The visitors went down to ten men in the 40th minute when centre-back Diego Bardanca fouled Hariss Harun to earn his second yellow card in the span of three minutes, but they proved obdurate opposition still. Only the heroics of Hassan Sunny denied Enrique Linares a shock equaliser just before the break, shortly after Shahdan had curled a 35-yard free-kick off the bar at the other end.
Even though Amy Recha diverted a cross from substitute Hafiz Nor just wide within a minute of the restart, clear-cut opportunities for Singapore were hard to come by despite the numerical advantage and majority of possession.
Philippines, only able to name two outfield players on the bench due to a spate of Covid-19 cases, managed to hold out until the 90th minute. Shawal, who had seen a close-range effort well saved minutes earlier, made no mistake when proffered a chance to make amends by tucking away a left-footed finish after controlling a fine lofted pass from Hariss with his chest.
Shawal Anuar celebrates, 29 March 2022
The 30-year-old’s second international goal, which came on his 20th cap and five years after his first, sealed back to back wins against the Azkals for the first time since January 2007 and the Lions’ 16th in 25 encounters. There was also time for an international debut for Shah Shahiran, who had come on in the 87th minute to replace Song Uiyoung.
Man-of-the-match Safuwan, who made his 105th appearance, took stock of the March international window and looked forward to the team’s next assignment – the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup China 2023™ Qualifiers Final Round in June, where hosts Kyrgyz Republic, along with Tajikistan and Myanmar, await in Group F. A permanent successor to Tatsuma Yoshida is expected to be in charge by next month.
“The two games mean a lot for everyone and we have to give our respect to Coach Nazri,” the 30-year-old defender said. “It is not easy as some of us were back less than three days before checking in; we have to give everyone the fullest support, be it now or later on. To go out there, especially at the Sports Hub, to win here is always special; we showed good possession football and it definitely takes time to improve on certain things, but I think the fans enjoyed the last two games and I think that is important.
“I love the environment now (but) it takes so many hands to go forward; it is going to be a tough process (for June) because we are going to different clubs and then we will be back less than two weeks before the Qualifiers (but) I think we are working towards (a decent performance).”
Singapore: Hassan Sunny (GK), Irfan Fandi (Amirul Adli 90’+1), Hariss Harun (C), Safuwan Baharudin, Zulqarnaen Suzliman (Hafiz Nor 46’), Shahdan Sulaiman, Adam Swandi (Taufik Suparno 61’), Nazrul Nazari, Song Uiyoung (Shah Shahiran 87’), Ikhsan Fandi (Ilhan Fandi 90’+1), Amy Recha (Shawal Anuar 61’).
Unused subs: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Syazwan Buhari (GK), Ryaan Sanizal, Christopher van Huizen, Hami Syahin, Zulfahmi Arifin.