Lonely Fazrul looks ahead to Syria match
Striker lonely up front, but believes there are lessons to take to Syria game
It was never going to be an easy evening for Fazrul Nawaz, or any other Singapore striker for that matter.
With Khairul Amri sidelined through injury, he was finally given the chance to be the focal point in the Lions attack at the National Stadium last night.
The only catch? The Lions were up against a mighty Japan side looking to make amends for the shock 0-0 draw in June's World Cup/Asian Cup qualifier in Saitama.
And they did just that, as goals from Mu Kanazaki, Keisuke Honda and Maya Yoshida handed them a comfortable 3-0 triumph.
The tireless striker never stopped applying pressure on the Japanese defenders in the first half but, too often, he had to do too much on his own in the attacking third.
On the few occasions Singapore had a chance to push forward, the supply into the box was aimless and easily dealt with by Yoshida and Masato Morishige.
After just 45 minutes and barely with a real chance to make an impact, the Warriors FC hitman was hauled off by Lions coach Bernd Stange to make way for Sahil Suhaimi, who had an equally difficult time.
Fazrul has had a year to remember, with 18 goals for Warriors in the S.League, as well as four in a Singapore shirt.
But Stange was quick to defend his decision to replace the 30-year-old at the break.
When asked by The New Paper about the decision, Stange responded: "We had to do something at half-time.
"He is the best player in the S.League but, if we didn't make a change, maybe the fans would turn against us.
"The fans saw that he gave of his best, but it just didn't work.
"All the substitutions were absolutely correct."
While the Lions would not have been expecting to create a plethora of chances against one of the strongest sides in Asia, they might have hoped to give their opponents a bit more to worry about.
There were a couple of moments when the Samurai Blue defence looked under duress, but coach Vahid Halilhodzic believes they were largely untroubled throughout the 90 minutes.
Halilhodzic said: "The dangerous situations for us came through counter-attacks and set-plays and we weren't alert in those situations.
"Our discipline also decreased in the second half and Singapore used the situation to create chances, but I don't think our goalkeeper touched the ball in the whole match."
Although Fazrul admits it had been a tough outing, he wasn't disheartened and insisted they would be looking to bounce back against Syria next week.
"It was really a difficult game and Japan came at us from the first minute," he told TNP.
"From then, I knew I had to drop deep and help my teammates defend as much as I could, but it's never easy.
"Still, I really appreciate this opportunity (to have played as the main striker) and I have to accept it even though it's not the result we wanted.
"Now, it's very important that we take whatever positives and bring them forward to our game against Syria, because it will definitely be difficult again.
"We must keep our heads together and work hard for the next game. I believe we can get a result against Syria."