|Afiq Yunos (11) tussling for the ball (credit: FAS)|
In a start reminiscent of Saturday’s match against Papua New Guinea, the home team began the game shakily with Hong Kong attacking several times early on before the hosts settled around 15 minutes in. The first meaningful Hong Kong attack came as early as the 5th minute when a pass meant for Hong Kong’s Christian Annan was intercepted just in time. Seven minutes later, Annan was again in the thick of action as he blazed a shot well over from a cut-back.
Singapore had to wait till the 21st minute for its first real chance, a speculative Shahfiq Ghani shot from 20 yards out that trickled out wide. Seven minutes later a fierce Shahfiq shot hit a Hong Kong defender and went out, but Singapore failed to capitalise on the resulting corner. It was to set the tone for a frustrating night in front of goal for Singapore.
An impressive Shahdan Sulaiman hit his first effort of the game on target in the 36th minute as he chested the ball down and attempted a half-volley that sailed into Yapp Hung Fai’s grateful arms. Shahdan then sent one of his many pinpoint free-kicks in this match onto the head of Safuwan Baharudin five minutes later, but the defender did not manage to keep his header down.
Coach Aide Iskandar, standing in for Head Coach, National Teams Bernd Stange who was still recovering from a fever, made a change at half time, replacing Shahfiq Ghani with M. Anumanthan and pushing Shahdan to a more advanced role. It paid dividends as the tenacious Anu paired well with Hariss Harun and helped Singapore to impose themselves in midfield.
Hariss almost scored in the 48th minute after releasing Faris Ramli down the right wing before galloping into space to take aim from Faris’ cross, but the shot was screwed off-target. Three minutes later, some clever interplay between Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Faris and Shahdan resulted in a shot from Sahil Suhaimi that went over the bar.
|Safuwan Baharudin (21) up close in the air (credit: FAS)|
Singapore had a goal chalked off in the 64th minute as quick thinking saw the team take a swift free kick after Faris Ramli was brought down just outside the penalty area. Unfortunately for the Lions, the referee disallowed the goal, calling play back and insisting that the players had to wait for his whistle.
The teams then traded chances, with Baihakki Khaizan connecting well with a header from yet another Shahdan corner, but the experienced defender sent the ball wide. Just three minutes later, Annan again got away from his defender’s attention and sent a low shot in, but Hassan, alert to the danger, made himself big and turned the shot away for a corner.
Singapore created a few more chances in the final 10 minutes, but Hariss’ 82nd minute shot went off target after great team play saw Singapore fashion a chance after several players exchanged smart passes, and a minute later a ball deep in to the Hong Kong box caused chaos but no Singapore player could take advantage.
The last significant action of the game saw Hassan race out to claim a high ball and take out Hong Kong’s Bai He, who required medical attention and was substituted after eventually walking off the pitch groggily.
Singapore: Hassan Sunny, Afiq Yunos, Safuwan Baharudin, Baihakki Khaizan, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Fazrul Nawaz, Hariss Harun, Shahdan Sulaiman, Shahfiq Ghani, Faris Ramli, Sahil Suhaimi
Hong Kong: Yapp Hung Fai, Lee Chi Ho, Fofo Agbo, Bai He, Chan Siu Ki, Lam Ka Wai, Christian Annan, Lo Kwan Yee, Cheung Kin Fung, Chan Wai Ho, Ju Yingzhi