FAS ● Sep 09, 2023
Singapore taste defeat in Tajikistan friendly
Ryhan Stewart (jersey number 19) in action against Tajikistan.
SINGAPORE 8 SEPTEMBER 2023 – Singapore’s first of two warm-up games before the 2026 World Cup qualifier in October ended in defeat as the Lions went down 2-0 to Tajikistan at the Bishan Stadium.
The game started with an early breakthrough for the Persian Lions as early as in the 6th minute. The visiting team won their first corner of the match, and 16-year-old debutant Abubakr Sulaimanov provided a pinpoint delivery to Rahimov Muhammadjon. The forward displayed his acrobatic skills with a scissor-kick attempt that beat everyone in the Singapore defense, nestling into the back of the net.
In the 30th minute, Singapore had a promising moment when a cross from Hafiz Nor met Jacob Mahler in the box. Unfortunately, Mahler’s shot was scuffed and subsequently cleared by the Tajik defense.
Tajikistan, meanwhile, continued to press in midfield with an aggressive physical approach, targeting Hariss Harun in particular. The Singapore skipper was the focal point of several persistent fouls, disrupting the Lions’ rhythm.
Singapore had their chances, with one particularly notable moment in the 35th minute when a sweeping ball from Adam Swandi found right wingback Ryhan Stewart. Stewart’s shot flashed across the six-yard box, tantalizingly close to finding a finishing touch.
In the 41st minute, a Tajik cross into the box found Rahimov, whose downward header was met by Khamrokulov Noriddin. However, the attempt lacked the clean connection he had hoped for, allowing goalkeeper Hassan Sunny to scramble and cover the shot.
As the first half came to a close, Singapore had a chance to level the score when a misplaced back pass by Tajikistan’s captain Umarbaev Parvidzhon was intercepted by Faris Ramli. However, his route to goal was impeded by Nazarov Kholmurod, and the resulting free kick from Hafiz Nor failed to be of any threat as it struck the Tajik defensive wall.
The Singapore fans supporting the Lions against Tajikistan.
The second half saw Singapore looking to regroup and get back into the game in a bid to draw level. In the 57th minute, Hariss registered Singapore’s first shot on target with an effort from outside the box, which Tajik goalkeeper Barotov Daler comfortably gathered.
Singapore Head Coach Nishigaya sought to inject urgency into the match by making a triple substitution in the 60th minute. Zulqarnaen Suzliman replaced Stewart, Shawal Anuar came on for Faris, and Chris Van Huizen entered the fray for Hafiz.
However, Singapore faced a significant setback in the 72nd minute when Adam Swandi was fouled from behind by Islomov Tabrev and, in a moment of frustration, retaliated. Already on a yellow card, Adam was shown a straight red card by Indonesian referee Munir Alkatiri Thoriq, reducing Singapore to 10 men and making their task of equalizing even more challenging.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, the Lions fought resolutely in the final 15 minutes, seeking the elusive equalizer. However, they were caught on the counterattack in the dying moments of the game when Vahdat Hanonov capitalized on the opportunity after being put through on goal and secured a 2-0 victory for Tajikistan.
Hariss Harun (jersey number 14) in action against Tajikistan.
In post-match comments to the media, Hariss expressed his disappointment with the result: “We need to learn how to control games better and not let the opponents dictate the pace. They (Tajikistan) did not really threaten us that much; they just used the ball better, and we were lacking in that aspect. When you look at how the top teams play, they are always calm and composed, looking for opportunities to break down their opponents in an effort to find openings, and that’s what we need to do.”
The Lions next take on Chinese Taipei in the second friendly for the September international window on 12 September at the Bishan Stadium.
Singapore: Hassan Sunny (GK), M. Anumanthan (Zulfahmi Arifin 78’), Lionel Tan, Ryhan Stewart (Zulqarnaen Suzliman 60’), Hafiz Nor (Christopher Van Huizen 60’), Song Uiyoung (Daniel Goh 78’), Hariss Harun (C), Shah Shahiran (Shahdan Sulaiman 89’), Faris Ramli (Shawal Anuar 60’).
Unused subs: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Hairul Syirhan (GK), Amirul Adli, Shakir Hamzah, Hami Syahin, Iqbal Hussain
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FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE