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Singapore’s plan to attack and entertain crowd, backfires miserably


The Lions could not stop the classy Chinese outfit from netting four goals, as Singapore suffered their largest home defeat in the year. (Photo: SSC)

Singapore took on China in the FIFA 2014 Brazil Asian World Cup Qualifier at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday night.

With four successive defeats and zero points in Group A, Singapore cannot progress on to the next round but were playing for pride instead.

Having narrowly lost the earlier encounter in Kunming, Singapore were confident of their chances against China this time round.

However, Singapore was put to the sword by an excellent Chinese outfit which cruised to a 4-0 victory. The Lions’ plan to go all out for a win on home turf backfired miserably, leaving them to lick their wounds after the painful defeat.

China showed their attacking prowess right from the kick-off. Within the first minute, China had an excellent opportunity to open the account through their talismanic winger, Yu Hai, but a magnificent save from Lions’ custodian, Lionel Lewis, kept Singapore in the game.

China clearly dominated the game, stringing passes and firing numerous shots on goal. They were stroking the ball confidently around the midfield, giving the Singapore players a headache as the Lions were unable to retain ball possession.

Singapore managed to defend well at the beginning stages of the game. However, nifty passing from the Chinese towards the dying stages of the first half proved too much to handle.

The co-ordination and execution of their excellent passing found China’s winger Yu Hai unmarked in the penalty box to slot home the opener from close range. The first half ended with China leading 1-0 and Singapore was unable to trouble the opposition.

Singapore started the second half more aggressively as they started to get their heads in the game with some crosses from both wings, but they were unable to convert either one of them.

Singapore’s best chance came, when the Lions veteran striker, Aleksandar Duric, was picked out by a cross in the China’s penalty box and could only see his shot strike the woodwork in the 53rd minute.

Two minutes later, Singapore was pushed further behind when the visitors doubled their advantage, credits to their captain, and Li Weifeng’s glancing header from a corner.

With nothing to lose, Singapore started to push men forward and came close to pulling one back in the 66th minute when Lions’ speedster Firdaus Idros forced the China’ goalkeeper into a good stop after he had darted into the box to prod Duric's cross goal wards.

A minute later, a moment of controversy caused China to be needlessly reduced to ten men. Huang Bowen was shown a straight red card for punching Lions’ midfield dynamo Mustafic Fahrudin in the face over a crunching tackle.

Before the numerical advantage could take place in favor to Singapore, they conceded another careless goal in the 73rd minute.

China’s left back Zeng Cheng, picked up the ball in his own half and galloped past four Singapore players unchallenged before placing his shot past Lewis to record China’s third goal.

It was not over yet as Zeng Cheng’s neat one-two with Chen Tao left him onside and unmarked in the 81st minute to strike Singapore’s goal and ‘hearts’ once again. This time, he used his favoured left-foot to curl home a sweet strike to beat Lewis and seal the game for China.

There was still time for one last chance for Singapore to give the home fans something to cheer about when an awkward ball over the top found Duric in space, but his powerful effort was well parried by the Chinese custodian, capping off a miserable night for the Lions.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Assistant Coach V.Sundramoorty said, “Basically, there were more China fans than Singapore supporters. In future we have to perform to bring back the fans.”

He also added that, “We did not take our chances and we were unlucky with them. It is tough to lose at home but we will work on it.”

With China, under former Real Madrid coach, Jose Antonio Camacho, since August, the Spanish legend said, “Confidence and being more aggressive, were the key factors to the overwhelming result and victory today.”

The Lions will travel to Al-Shaab Stadium, Iraq on 29th February for the last match of their World Cup Qualifying journey to avenge their defeat and fight for the pride of Singapore.

The fixture will commence in about three months’ time, but the question now is, will Singapore bring back the promising stars like Harris Harrun and Safuwan Baharudin, from the Southeast Asian Games to bolster the squad or use this match as an experience grabbing opportunity for some of  the uncapped Lions.