Featured, Football

Singapore 0-0 Malaysia: Lady luck prevents Lions from sealing home win

Ong Kim Swee and his men will breathe a sigh of relief after they held Singapore to a 0-0 draw at the National Stadium, despite V. Sundramoorthy’s men dominating proceedings on the night.

The Malaysian boss opted to field an experimental starting eleven, handing the likes of Rizal Fahmi, Khairul Helmi and even Safawi Rashid a start, while Amri Yahya was tasked with leading their line up-front, meaning Darren Lok had to settle for a place on the bench.

As for Singapore, Hariss Harun was yet again their midfield marshall alongside the enterprising Safuwan Baharuddin. Daniel Bennett, who was outstanding against Qatar last time out, was partnered with Baihakki at the heart of their defence, as Khairul Amri spearheaded their offensive department.

With several thousand home fans backing them, the Lions got off to a positive start, pilling on the pressure in the first few minutes. Khairul Amri found space on the 2nd minute mark to float a cross into the near post, but Bennett’s flick failed to find any red shirt inside the box.

Both teams went on to engage in a scrappy battle for possession, which lasted approximately seven minutes, before Singapore carved out their second chance of the match. Faritz Hameed produced a fantastic cross from the right, but Faris Ramli’s shot was blocked successfully by Rizal Fahmi. Two minutes later, Faritz produced yet another delivery from the right, but Izzdin’s fine attempt was parried away to safety by Khairul Azhan.

A flurry of chances followed in the next few minutes, but wasteful finishing from Khairul Amri and Safuwan, coupled with excellent defending from Malaysia’s center-backs, prevented Sundramoorthy’s men from breaking the deadlock. The Tigers though, slowly crawled back into the game, and had their first clear-cut chance of the game on the 33rd minute, as Amri Yahya fired a speculative curling effort. Hassan Sunny though did just enough to tip it away.

But Singapore enjoyed their best spell of chances in the last five minutes, as Amri and Hariss both fired shots that rattled against the bar, within the space of two minutes. But the score ultimately remained 0-0, as the half time whistle was blown.

Ong instantly responded by introducing Shahrom Kalam in the second half, replacing Kedah’s Khairul Helmi. Four minutes after the restart, Singapore were handed a free-kick from a dangerous area, after Gabriel Quak was fouled by Shahrul Saad. Safuwan stepped up to take the free-kick but he could only fire it above the bar.

Sundramoorthy eventually made his first change on the 58th minute, introducing the experienced Shahril Ishak. Ong Kim Swee also jumped on the bandwagon and made two changes in the next three minutes, bringing on Hadin Azman as well as handing Darren Lok his international debut.

On the 69th minute, Amri created space for himself on the right, before unleashing a low cross into the penalty-box. Baihakki worked hard enough to get a touch on it, but Shahrom Kalam’s astounding block meant the score remained 0-0. Ong continued to ring the changes in the next few minutes, bringing on Norshahrul Idlan and Zaquan Adha, as the Tigers were ordered to go for the jugular.

Sahil’s outstanding effort on the 77th minute was only narrowly denied by Khairul Azhan’s deft touch, but that happened after Singapore’s hopes of earning a spot-kick – after Faris was fouled inside Malaysia’s area – were dashed by the referee, who waved play on.

The tempo visibly slowed down in the last 10 minutes or so, as both sides looked compelled to accept the draw. But as soon as the final whistle was blown, you could almost sense the aura of frustration inside the stadium, as the home side were denied a morale-boosting win, despite being in control for large portions of the game, tonight.

More to come…


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