Singapore edge Malaysia in a classic encounter

Singapore edge Malaysia in a classic encounter

By Chee Seong - AFF Singapore correspondent

On a night where a record scoreline between the two sides was recorded, Singapore overcame their fiercest rivals in International Football on Saturday night, infront of 6000 fans, at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Aleksander Duric (R) starred for Singapore against Malaysia

In the first leg of the second round 2014 World Cup Qualifying tie, Singapore overcame Malaysia 5-3, going into the second leg at Bukit Jalil in four days time with a slight advantage.

Malaysia got off to a brilliant start after AFF Cup MVP Safee Sali beat Izwan Mahbud from close range with just 24 seconds on the clock. At that point of time there were still a couple of players who did not have a touch of the ball. It was Safee Sali’s first goal against Singapore as well.

Singapore came back strongly and equalised in the eighth minute. A free kick was won about 35m away from goal. Up stepped Shi Jiayi who sent in a low shot into the area, only for 41 year old striker, Aleksander Duric, to flick the ball home, leaving Sharbinee Allawee stranded in goal.

Singapore had the upper hand of exchanges in the next 10 minutes and it was through another set piece that they took the lead. Qiu Li scored with a brilliant effort to mark his first International “A” goal in six years after he recieved citizenship and the Chinese born forward celebrated by sprinting to the touchline kissing the Singapore flag on his left chest and embracing National Coach Raddy Avramovic.

With the score at 2-1, Singapore goalkeeper Izwan made probably the save of his life when Kunalan sent Ismail Faruqi through on goal. Ismail had all the time in the world with only Izwan to beat, but his hesitation allowed Izwan to stop his eventual shot brilliantly in the 30th minute and made sure that the scoreline stayed in favour of Singapore.

Singapore went 3-1 up in the 44th minute when Mustafic Fahrudin finished a move started by himself. Winning the ball off a Malaysian midfielder in his own half, the Tampines Rovers midfielder moved forward and played a through ball to Shi Jiayi. Jiayi’s return was abit too heavy but Hariss Harun nodded the ball into the path of Mustafic, who then blasted the ball home through the near post from 12 yards.

Two minutes later, Singapore were 4-1 up. Aleksander Duric played the ball through the legs of a Malaysian defender on the far end, before sending in a beautiful inswinger for the onrushing Shi Jiayi to tap home from close range.

It was a scoreline no one would have expected. Malaysia wasn’t playing to their best abilities despite gaining the away goal advantage as early as in the first minute of play. However, things changed in the second period.

Skipper Shafiq Rahim was sent off for a lunge on Hariss Harun in the 50th minute by the referee. It seemed doomed for Malaysia when this happened, but a sending off for Ismail Yunos, for a challenge on S Kunalan, who he had kept quiet for most of the match, changed that.

Raddy was forced to make a tactical switch, with Shi Jiayi coming into the right side of defence which was vacated by the sending off of Ismail Yunos.

Malaysia began to belive as they strung a series of passes together, and also got into a few goal scoring positions, with Kunalan being the mastermind for the second half performance. 15 minutes after Ismail Yunos’ sending off, Abdul Hadi Yahaya capitalised on a Daniel Bennett’s mistimed jump, to reduce the deficit from close range, giving debutant goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud no chance at all.

S Kunalan then went on his own on the left right after the restart to send Safee Sali though. Safee Sali took on two defenders, before unleashing a powerful shot, which took a deflection of Daniel Bennett’s boots, into the bottom right hand corner of Izwan’s goal. Safee Sali dived Jurgen Klinsman style with the 1000 Malaysia fans in the stands bursting with joy. It was 4-3 and it is definitely game on!

Malaysia continued to press but they couldn’t find a way past the Singapore defence. Singapore regained a two goal lead in the 80th minute when Qiu Li played the ball to Aleksander Duric in the penalty area. With his back to goal, Duric turned the defender brilliantly and sent a low shot into the bottom right hand corner to send the Singapore faithful into raptures.

Speaking with Asian Football Feast after the game, Home United defender Abdil Qayyim said that the tie is far from over.

“It was really a good game. I would love to see more local boys representing Singapore in the future. We do not see Malaysia using any foreign talents,” said the former SAFFC and Singapore U21 defender

“It is going to be tough, going to Bukit Jalil as the Malaysians will be going all out to attack us right from the first whistle as they are on home soil.”

The Singapore squad will leave Singapore for Kuala Lumpur on Monday morning at 10:50am. The Lions have called up Zulfahmi Arifin as a replacement for the suspended Ismail Yunos.

Singapore: Mohd Izwan Mahbud, Muhd Safuwan Baharudin, Shi Jiayi, Aleksandar Duric, Qiu Li (Shahdan Sulaiman), Hariss Harun, Mustafic Fahrudin, Daniel Bennett, Shahril Ishak, Juma’at Jantan, Ismail Yunos

Malaysia: Mohd Sharbinee Allawee, Mohd MUslim Ahmad, Mohd Fadhli Shas, Mahalli Jasuli, Mohd Asraruddin Putra Omar, Amar Rohidan, Safiq Rahim, S. Kunalan, Ismail Faruqi (Mohd Amirulhadi Zainal), Mohd Safee Sali (Izzaq Faris Ramlan), Ahmad Fakri Saarani (Abdul Hadi Yahaya)

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