National Team - Lions ● Jun 12, 2022

Asian Cup qualifying hopes over for Lions


Ikhsan Fandi goes for goal, 11 June 2022


BISHKEK, 12 JUNE 2022 – Singapore’s hopes of qualifying for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup™ 2023 are over after a 1-0 defeat to Tajikistan on Saturday evening.


Shervoni Mabatshoev’s strike in the second half condemned the Lions to a consecutive Group F defeat in the final round of qualifying and virtually guarantee a historic first qualification for the Tajiks. Coupled with Kyrgyz Republic’s 2-0 victory over Myanmar later the same day, it means that Singapore will not finish in the top two. Only the six group winners and five best runners-up will go through to next year’s Asian Cup.


Just like in the 2-1 defeat to Kyrgyz Republic three days ago, Takayuki Nishigaya’s charges created a flurry of chances but paid the price for not putting them away.


Shah Shahiran gets a shot away, 11 June 2022


Ikhsan Fandi dragged a shot just wide from a tight angle after only two minutes, before Shah Shahiran smashed a volley at Rustam Yatimov from 20 yards in the 17th minute. Nazrul Nazari then shot straight at the goalkeeper on 32 minutes, who also parried Faris Ramli’s low drive a minute later.


“The game was so close and you can see that we created a lot of chances in this game and the previous one, but we need to finish our chances and improve more,” Nishigaya said. “We have two sides (aspects) – the first is that every player has to improve their finishing and secondly, we have to attack more, collectively. We have to improve both individually and as a team.”


Tajikistan, who had beaten Myanmar 4-0 in their opening match, found it harder to crack Singapore’s goal. Hassan Sunny stuck out a leg to deflect Manuchehr Dzhalilov’s effort in the fifth minute and then pulled off a miraculous point-blank stop to deny Amorbek Juraboev in the 36th minute. Centre-back Irfan Fandi also stood tall with some superb tackles and headed clearances.


Christopher van Huizen made his first international start since November 2015, 11 June 2022


However, he was powerless to stop Mabatshoev’s goal in the 53rd minute as the forward appeared to get the final touch to a cross that had taken a couple of deflections on its way into the box.


Even when trailing, the Lions rued missed opportunities to level. Safuwan Baharudin’s header was ruled out for offside in the 76th minute, followed by Ikhsan Fandi spurning a great chance from close range and Glenn Kweh’s powerful effort somehow blocked by a defender.


Singapore lineup against Tajikistan, 11 June 2022


Nishigaya did acknowledge the 158th-ranked Lions’ efforts against two opponents that are classed higher – Kyrgyz Republic are 95th and Tajikistan are 114th.


“Of course, we are very disappointed not to be able to qualify and I am so sorry for the Singapore fans,” he said. “But we hope they are proud of the boys as you can see that the players really showed good performances and their commitment.


“Our players have shown that we can compete against teams that have a higher ranking than us. How we can improve is to try to continue how we what we are doing… if we are able to continue to play this way, we will be able to achieve (results against better teams). So please, believe in ourselves. Please believe in our boys and my team.”


Singapore: Hassan Sunny (GK), Irfan Fandi, Hariss Harun (C), Safuwan Baharudin, Nazrul Nazari, Shah Shahiran (Amirul Adli 64’), Shahdan Sulaiman, Song Uiyoung, Christopher van Huizen (Nur Adam Abdullah 64’), Faris Ramli (Glenn Kweh 64’), Ikhsan Fandi.
Unused subs: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Zaiful Nizam (GK), Ryaan Sanizal, Hafiz Nor, Taufik Suparno, Adam Swandi, Ryhan Stewart, Gabriel Quak, Iqram Rifqi.


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