Singapore rue missed chances against Syria
WORLD CUP QUALIFIER (ASIA)
(Ouday Abdul Jaffal 59)
They had their chances.
But Singapore just could not convert any of them, as they crashed to a 1-0 defeat by Syria in their World Cup Group E qualifying match at the Sultan Qaboos Stadium in Muscat, Oman last night.
While the Syrians, who are ranked 36 places higher than the Lions in the world rankings, dominated much of the possession as expected, it was Bernd Stange’s men who had the better goalcoring opportunities.
Khairul Amri, toiling up front all night as a lone striker, first showed great vision in the 22nd minute when he tried a shot from 35 metres which had Syria goalkeeper Ibrahim Almeh scrambling, only to watch the ball hit the side netting.
Seven minutes later, a golden opportunity fell to winger Hafiz Abu Sujad, who ghosted in behind the Syrian defence and found himself with just Almeh to beat, but he could not slide the ball under the shot-stopper, who saved with his legs.
The Lions frustrated their Middle East opponents with disciplined, organised defending, restricting them to shots from outside the area, but also gave the ball away cheaply when they had it.
Syria had the ball in the Singapore net before the break, but Mahmoud Al Mawas’ effort was chalked off because the ball had crossed the byeline for a goal-kick.
But Singapore’s backline was punctured just before the hour mark, when winger-turned-fullback Nazrul Ahmad Nazari was completely sold by a feint by Sanharib Malki, who sent a cross to the backpost that was met by a thumping header by Ouday Abdul Jaffal.
The Lions, however, did not let their heads drop.
Just three minutes after Syria’s goal, Amri twisted and turned inside the box and lashed a shot towards goal, but the ball cannoned off the left post and out to safety.
Syria then missed gilt-edged chances of their own to kill the tie off, owing to a combination of poor finishing and great goalkeeping by Singapore shot-stopper Izwan Mahbud.
First, Malki headed wide from just six metres out in the 72nd minute, after the Singapore defence fell asleep and left him completely unmarked.
Izwan then made two superb saves in two minutes to deny Omar Kharbin and Malki again.
Amri then had another chance in the 84th minute, when he drifted goalside, only for Almeh to deny him from close range.
With the result, Singapore are now second in Group E.