Singapore football fans braced themselves as the Lions went head to head with world number 65 Saudi Arabia on June 12 (Singapore time) at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh.
Following their 4-0 and 5-0 defeat against Palestine and Uzbekistan, expectations going into the match were low, especially since the Saudis are top of the Group D table in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and have remained undefeated.
However, Singapore put up a good fight and showed an improved performance, particularly in their defence.
Singapore coach Tatsuma Yoshida had made some changes to the starting line-up prior to the game.
Defenders Irfan Fandi and Amirul Adli replaced Baihakki Khaizan and Shakir Hamzah in a five-man defence formation.
This strategy appeared to be working as Saudi Arabia struggled to score a goal, despite dominating the game.
The match remained goalless in the first half.
Singapore managed to hold their own ground in the second half as the score remained at 0-0 for a while.
But on the 84th minute, Saudi Arabia’s Salem Al-Dawsari netted the ball past Singapore keeper Izwan Mahbud from the edge of the six yard box.
Three minutes later, Fahad Al-Muwallad scored Saudi Arabia’s second goal, after intercepting a mistimed pass between Singapore’s Hafiz Nor and Amirul Adli.
Striker Saleh Al-Shehri scored another goal on the sixth minute of added time, securing the victory for the Saudis.
“I am proud of them”
After the match, FAS quoted coach Yoshida as saying:
“Today, our boys did very well and I am proud of them.
We changed our formation and they followed some (new) strategies… It was fantastic, but Saudi Arabia are very strong.”
Despite that, Yoshida also admitted that the Singapore team has to continue to improve in order to compete at the international level.
He explained that the team was not used to playing at international level, but they eventually got used to the intensity in their match against Saudi Arabia.
Yoshida said that once the team is back in Singapore, they will keep on going with the “same intention and intensity”.
Top images via FAS.
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