Saudi Arabia too strong as Singapore lose 3-0
|(Abdulfattah Asiri 27, 67, Abdullah Al-Hamdan 62)|
Singapore suffered their first competitive loss under coach Tatsuma Yoshida on Friday morning (Oct 11, Singapore time), after going down 3-0 to Saudi Arabia in a World Cup qualifier at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah.
The Saudis, ranked 70th in the world, dominated proceedings for much of the match against the Lions, who are 87 places below the hosts.
The Lions, who lined up in a 3-4-3 formation, with Irfan Fandi, Baihakki Khaizan and Safuwan Baharudin in defence, conceded the opening goal in the 27th minute.
After latching on to a through-ball in the box, Abdulellah Al-Malki found enough space on the byeline to cut the ball back to Abdulfattah Asiri, who finished past Izwan Mahbud.
The Lions then went close to breaching the Saudi rearguard when Yasir Hanapi's effort from just inside the box was palmed away comfortably by Mohammed Al-Owais in the 31st minute.
The Green Falcons were then awarded a penalty just before half-time when Safuwan Baharudin was adjudged to have fouled Abdulfattah in the area. But Izwan came to the rescue as he thwarted Abdullah Al-Hamdan’s spot-kick.
But, despite more valiant defending from the Lions, the Saudis doubled their advantage in the 62nd minute with Abdullah making amends, finishing after Izwan’s save from his initial shot had spilled into his path.
Five minutes later, Abdulfattah rounded off the scoring with his second of the match, slotting in from close range after a pass from Abdullah.
Singapore coach Tatsuma Yoshida acknowledged the superiority of the opponents, saying: "Today the result is disappointing, but the attitude, we never give up and I can see that. We must try again in the next match.
"(Our next opponents) Uzbekistan are also very strong, but it doesn't matter, we don't stop, we keep going.
"It's a difficult situation for us. We wanted to get one point, it would have been better. But we aimed to get three points because we are challengers, we have nothing to lose.
"We could have parked the bus, but it's not good for us. We must improve from this and we want to go to higher pots in future World Cup qualifiers."
On top of the loss, Yoshida will also be concerned by an injury to wing-back Zulqarnaen Suzliman, who was stretchered off just before the hour mark after a tackle from behind by a Saudi attacker.
After three matches in Group D, Singapore are second with four points, level with Saudi Arabia, who have a game in hand.
The Lions will now have to regroup as they face Uzbekistan on Tuesday at the National Stadium. In the night’s earlier match, the Uzbeks trounced Yemen 5-0.
Saudi Arabia: Mohammed Al-Owais, Yasser Al-Shahrani, Ziyad Al-Sahafi, Abdullah Madu, Mohammed Al-Breik, Abdulellah Al-Malki, Yahya Al-Shehri (C), Abdullah Otayf, Hattan Bahebri, Abdulfattah Asiri, Abdullah Al-Hamdan
Singapore: Izwan Mahbud, Zulqarnaen Suzliman (Nazrul Nazari 54), Baihakki Khaizan, Safuwan Baharudin, Irfan Fandi, Darren Teh, Shahdan Sulaiman, Hariss Harun (C), Yasir Hanapi (Shawal Anuar 66), Faris Ramli (Gabriel Quak 82), Ikhsan Fandi