Lions draw positives from Qatar defeat
Lions take positives from Qatar defeat and head to Ashgabat with confidence
|(Almoez Ali 39, 52, Ahmed Alaadin 81-pen)||(Faris Ramli 53)|
The scoreboard at Doha's Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium read Qatar 3 Singapore 1 - another defeat for the Lions who have not tasted victory since last November.
V Sundramoorthy's charges are now en route to Ashgabat to face Turkmenistan in next Tuesday's critical Asian Cup Group E qualifier, looking for a win to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the 2019 Finals in the United Arab Emirates.
But, instead of dwelling on the defeat, the Lions drew much confidence from their showing against a Qatari side ranked 77 spots above them in the Fifa world rankings.
"We competed really hard, and I think the boys did well. We are ready for Turkmenistan," Hariss Harun, who skippered the Lions in yesterday morning's (Singapore time) match, told The New Paper in a phone interview from Doha.
"I personally believe we can beat Turkmenistan. Now we must believe it as a team."
There were indeed some positives to be taken from the loss.
Faris Ramli did superbly to volley home in the 53rd minute, after being set free by a Fazrul Nawaz lob from midfield.
When we scored, we had the belief that we could equalise.Hariss Harun, who skippered the Lions against Qatar, on Faris Ramli’s goal that made it 2-1
For a period after Faris' goal, which reduced the deficit to 2-1, it appeared that 162nd-ranked Singapore actually believed they could draw level against the 2022 World Cup hosts.
The Lions even managed to put the ball in the net just five minutes later.
Daniel Bennett's scissors-kick looked destined for the far corner of the Qatar goal, before it was nodded home by Fazrul on the goal-line.
The Lions' joy quickly turned to frustration, with Fazrul immediately being flagged offside.
Qatar then ended Singapore's hopes of a comeback with an Ahmed Alaadin penalty in the 81st minute.
Hariss may be optimistic of the Lions' chances against Turkmenistan, but he also knows they must cut down on the defensive mistakes that led to the first two Qatari goals.
Attempting to dribble while inside his own penalty box in the 39th minute, Zulfahmi Arifin carelessly lost possession with his teammates having already moved into attacking positions.
With Singapore defenders still rushing back into the box, Almoez Ali capitalised to give the home side the lead.
Lions veteran Bennett was livid at the 26-year-old Zulfahmi for that slip-up, and the Tampines Rovers stalwart was again left frustrated 13 minutes later, as the Lions' defence went to sleep and allowed Ali to score Qatar's second goal.
"We were under a lot of pressure from the start, they pressed us hard and that's where I think we should have done better with the ball. We made things difficult for ourselves," said Hariss.
"But it's a learning process, especially when you play teams like Qatar who are superior to us. They really tested us and it will only help us improve.
"We are looking forward to the Turkmenistan game. We know we must go there and win, and that's what we are looking to do.
"For now, we need to recover well and prepare mentally for the game."