SINGAPORE (10 Nov 2017) – Singapore put up a gutsy performance but went down 1-0 to Lebanon in an “A” international friendly at the National Stadium on Thursday night.
The home team started off brightly and matched Lebanon stride for stride, but it was Lebanon which broke the deadlock in the 18th minute through Ali Hamam.
A quick move down the middle saw Nader Matar find space between Singapore’s midfield and defence before sliding the ball through for captain Hamam, who made no mistake from close range.
Lebanon had a chance to double the lead just two minutes later when Rabih Atava’s powerful run ended with a shot into the stands.
Singapore’s best chance came just seven minutes before half-time when Safuwan Baharudin came close.
The ever-present Daniel Bennett made a superb interception before releasing Shawal Anuar, who in turn found Safuwan but his grounder glanced agonisingly wide.
Irfan Fandi replaced Faris Ramli at the break as the Lions looked for an equaliser.
Hassan Sunny was alert to the danger in the 52nd minute when he made a stunning save right at the feet of Matar to deny the visitors.
Singapore should have levelled matters on 65 minutes after some good work from substitute Nazrul Nazari and Safuwan. Shahdan’s follow-up shot graced the bar to the dismay of the home crowd.
Sundram Moorthy’s side were on the ascendancy as Faritz and Nazrul crafted out another opportunity for Hafiz Sujad, only to see his strike hit the arm of a Lebanese player without a penalty given.
Lebanon countered with a quick move on 72 minutes but Omar Chadian’s firm shot was gathered comfortably by the Singapore custodian.
There was one last opportunity for Lebanon to make it two with four minutes left on the clock when Adnan Haidar’s long-range strike made Hassan scramble across goal but it came to naught.
With a solid performance in preparation for the Bahrain game, Coach Sundram told reporters at the post-match press conference that while improvements were needed, he was satisfied with what he saw.
“Our boys battled, we had one or two chances and if we had taken them we would have gotten a draw,” Sundram said.
“This was a preparation game for Bahrain – the boys needed to increase their intensity and this game helped them to feel that.”
Lebanon coach Miodrag Radulovic too was impressed by the Lions’ battling display, adding he did not expect a game of such intensity by the hosts.
“It was a very good game, like a qualifying game, not a friendly game, it was a good opportunity to try tactics,” he said.
“Singapore has potential and I wish them luck in the game against Bahrain and Taipei.”
Singapore will now shift their focus to the penultimate Asian Cup Group E qualifier against Bahrain at the National Stadium next Tuesday 14 November at 7.30pm. Tickets are available online at www.sportshubtix.com, at the Singapore Indoor Stadium box office and SingPost outlets islandwide. – www.fas.org.sg