World Cup qualifiers: Lions beaten 5-0 by Uzbekistan
|(Jaloliddin Masharipov 6, 34, Eldor Shomurodov 45+1, Odil Ahmedov 50, Irfan Fandi 88-og)|
Singapore suffered their worst defeat since a 6-0 loss to two-time World Cup winners Argentina in a friendly in June 2017, going down 5-0 to Uzbekistan on Tuesday morning (June 8, Singapore time).
The result comes four days after a 4-0 reverse against Palestine in another World Cup 2022 qualifier in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Coach Tatsuma Yoshida shuffled his starters and tweaked his tactics at the King Fahd International Stadium but suffered another heavy defeat that has taken some of the shine out of a promising start to his tenure and the qualification campaign, before Covid-19 denied the Lions international football for 18 months.
Yoshida felt the 159th-ranked Lions did produce an improved display of “fighting spirit” and “tactical quality” as compared to the loss against Palestine, which he had dubbed the “worst performance” since he took over in May 2019.
The aggressiveness he said was lacking against Palestine was more apparent against the Uzbeks, with the Lions receiving two of their three cautions within the first 34 minutes.
But the gulf in class to a side that sit 73 rungs above them in the Fifa rankings was apparent.
Said the Japanese tactician: “The boys’ performance is better than the previous match. We changed the formation and starting XI.
“They were doing well but the first goal made their motivation go down a bit... The (Uzbekistan) players’ individual and physical quality is quite high and far better than ours.
“We can learn from them. They have quality but they run a lot. Our players did well but are not used to that intensity...
“Two years ago, I think the squad was a bit fitter.”
The 46-year-old changed nearly half of his first XI from the Palestine game and switched from a 4-2-3-1 to a 3-4-3 for the Lions’ penultimate qualifier.
In came Baihakki Khaizan, Hafiz Abu Sujad, Zulfahmi Arifin, Hazzuwan Halim and Faris Ramli for Irfan Fandi, M. Anumanthan, Hafiz Nor, Gabriel Quak and Ilhan Fandi.
But like last Friday morning, the game was effectively over by half-time as the White Wolves also went into the break 3-0 up.
They opened the scoring after just six minutes with the first shot of the match when Jaloliddin Masharipov beat goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud after latching on to a neat lofted ball over the defence by Ikromjon Alibaev.
Masharipov grabbed his second on 34 minutes after another ball over the top resulted in an Eldor Shomurodov shot. Izwan denied the 25-year-old striker but the rebound fell to Masharipov, who shimmied to create just enough space to fire home.
Shomurodov, who ended the Serie A season with five goals in Genoa’s last six matches, scored his seventh goal of qualifying after neatly chesting Oleg Zoteev’s dinked ball and coolly slotting home on the stroke of half-time.
Five minutes into the second half, Uzbekistan made it four after captain Odil Ahmedov’s powerful drive beat Izwan at his near post.
Ahmedov, who spent six seasons in the Russian top flight, had a hand in the game’s final goal as his routine cross cruelly deflected off substitute Irfan’s head and into the net two minutes from time.
The defeat ended the Lions’ slim chance of finishing second and potentially moving into the next round of qualifiers.
They are unlikely to finish higher than fourth in the five-team group.
Third-placed Palestine, who like Singapore have seven points from seven games but boast a vastly superior goal difference, play bottom side Yemen (five points from six games) in their final match.
The Lions will meet group leaders Saudi Arabia on Saturday morning. The Saudis have 14 points from six games, two ahead of the Uzbeks, who have played the same number of matches.
UZBEKISTAN: Sanjar Kuvvatov, Islomjon Kobilov, Oleg Zoteev, Eshmurodov Umarbek, Khusniddin Alikulov (Khojiakbar Alijonov 45), Otabek Shukurov (Odiljon Xamrobekov 55), Ikromjon Alibaev, Odil Ahmedov, Jaloliddin Masharipov (Ikramov Farukh 55), Dostonbek Khamdamov (Hojimat Erkinov 46, Temurkhuja Abdukholiqov 61), Eldor Shomurodov
SINGAPORE: Izwan Mahbud, Madhu Mohana (Zulqarnaen Suzliman 67), Baihakki Khaizan, Shakir Hamzah, Nazrul Nazari (Shawal Anuar 46), Hafiz Abu Sujad (Irfan Fandi 29), Shahdan Sulaiman, Zulfahmi Arifin (Hami Syahin 46), Hazzuwan Halim (Saifullah Akbar 71), Yasir Hanapi, Faris Ramli