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Heartbreak for Lions as Lady Luck deserts Singapore

Singapore could not find a way to stop the lethal Jordan attack and could only watch the visitors celebrate their goals. (Photo: SSC)
 
The Lions were left licking their wounds after a painful 3-0 defeat by Jordan at the Jalan Besar Stadium, yesterday night. The loss dealt a severe blow to Singapore’s hope of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Brimming with confidence from their recent 2-0 victory over the Philippines, the Lions took on the Middle Eastern outfit, Jordan, in the third round match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifiers with hopes of qualifying to the next round.

However, their confidence was shattered in just 11 minutes, when an unfortunate defensive error by Singapore, left Jordanian forward, Abdallah Deeb, unmarked to head home the opener from six yards out.

The early lead by the visitors ignited the Lions and they gradually took control of the match. The Lions missed a golden opportunity for an equaliser when Safuwan Baharudin failed to score with his header in the 19th minute from a well-delivered corner kick by Lions skipper, Shahril Ishak.

With Singapore’s Head Coach Radojko Avramovic suspended from the team bench, Assistant Coach V.Sundramoorthy courageously rallied his troops by shouting his orders from the touchline to tighten up the backline. However, containing the swift and nippy Jordanians proved to be a tough task as Jordan continued to pressure the Lions’ defence.

The first half ended with Jordan leading 1-0, with multiple opportunities squandered by Singapore and  had only themselves to be blamed for their poor finishing at goal.

The start of the second half saw the introduction of Shahdan Sulaiman and Isa Halim replacing Hafiz Rahim and Shi Jiayi respectively which signaled Sundramoorthy’s blitzkrieg intentions to march on for goals to win.

With slick passing, Jordan attacked ferociously with the intend to extend their lead and was rewarded with a second goal on the 54th minute, courtesy to Anas Bani Yaseen’s magnificent back header from a free kick outside the box.

10 minutes later, the Lions’ luck took a turn for the worse. A misplaced pass left Jordan’s targetman, Ahmed Hayel, free to sprint past three Lions’ defenders before slamming home the third with aplomb.

Singapore never gave up hope and continued to search for a consolation goal valiantly. They managed to score in the 77th minute when Shahril Ishak received the ball off a quick free kick by Hariss Harun, blasted the ball into the net only for the referee to rule it offside.

Superb ball control and deft footwork by the Jordanians proved too strong for the flummoxed Lions’ which extinguished the FIFA 2014 World Cup dreams for Singapore with the scoreboard reading, Singapore 0-3 Jordan at the end of the match.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Assistant Coach V.Sundramoorty said, “I think it was a hard game and we did not convert chances when necessary. I think with time, with these young boys, Singapore has a future. We have three games left and mathematically, if we collect maximum points in the remaining games, we still stand a chance to qualify.”

Jordan’s Head Coach Adnan Hamad was delighted with the way his team performed and shared,I am very happy with the result and we are very close to the fourth round (FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers). We respected the Singapore team, played well as a team and deserved the fair result.”

The Lions will travel to Amman International Stadium, Jordan on 11th November for the return match to avenge their defeat and claw their way back up the group for a possible qualification spot.