Singapore beat Maldives at home to seal first win in 14 matches

Kelvin Leong Kelvin Leong

Singapore sealed a 3-2 victory over Maldives at the National Stadium on Friday night in an ‘A’ international friendly.

Singapore finally got their first win after more than a year with a 3-2 victory over Maldives at the National Stadium on Friday night.

Hariss Harun, Shahdan Sulaiman and Shakir Hamzah were the goalscorers as the Lions took the pressure off head coach V. Sundram Moorthy who had come under intense scrutiny for his poor record with the national team.

It was a rather similar sight initially that greeted the partisan crowd with the home team struggling to breach a stubborn visiting defence line helmed by Akram Abdul Ghanee.

Both teams came out cagey but Singapore began to impose themselves after the opening exchanges and put together a couple of good moves through the likes of Shawal Anuar, Faris Ramli and Yasir Hanapi.

The Lions’ first chance came in the 25th minute when Shahdan floated a ball over the defence and Yasir got there ahead of the goalkeeper but his lob came back off the post. Shawal put his laces through the ball only to miss an empty goal and hit the stands instead.

It was the Geylang International winger who had another opportunity two minutes later when Yasir’s cushion header off a Nazrul Nazari cross fell to Shawal who saw his powerful shot come back off the post and across goal.

The home side finally broke the deadlock seven minutes from the break when Zulfahmi Arifin’s corner kick found Hariss who was lucky to get a second stab at the ball after he mistimed his initial header.

Just when the crowd were still in celebratory mood, Maldives levelled matters through a free kick from Mohamed Umair. His pinpoint delivery went over the entire Singapore defence and got the slightest of touches from Samooh Ali before sailing past Hassan Sunny at full stretch.

1⃣3⃣0⃣ It's a landmark 🇸🇬 appearance for Baihakki Khaizan tonight!

Posted by Football Association of Singapore on Friday, 23 March 2018

There were no changes from either side as the teams came out from the break but the Lions clicked into second gear as they pressed on for the winner.

Yasir and Shawal both had shots at goal but it was Shahdan who gave Singapore a 2-1 lead in the 66th minute from the spot.

Shawal’s trickery in the box was too much for Ali who chopped him down from behind before Shahdan placed a perfect spot kick past a hapless Hussain Shareef.

Shakir was on hand to add a third goal in the 72nd minute when Irfan Fandi won a challenge and the ball fell to the left-back who made no mistake with a low grounder.

Maldives pulled one back with eight minutes to play when substitute Ibrahim Mahudhee Hussain slotted the ball past Hassan to make it 3-2.

There were some nervy moments for Singapore but the home team managed to see out the remainder of the game and secure a much-needed victory in front of their own fans.

Singapore will now head to Chinese Taipei for their final Group E match of the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers that is scheduled for March 27.

Singapore: Hassan Sunny (GK), Zulfahmi Arifin, Baihakki Khaizan (Izzdin Shafiq 85′), Irfan Fandi (Anders Aplin 73’), Shakir Hamzah (Hafiz Sujad 89′), Nazrul Nazari (Emmeric Ong 82’), Hariss Harun (C), Shahdan Sulaiman, Faris Ramli, Shawal Anuar (Adam Swandi 80’), Yasir Hanapi

Maldives: Mohamad Faisal (GK), Samooh Ali (Yasfaadh Habeeb 89′), Akram Abdul Ghanee, Mujuthaaz Mohamad (Ahmad Numaan 83’), Ibrahim Waheed Hassan, Mohamed Irufaan, Mohamed Umair (Hussain Nihaan 90′), Ashadh Ali (C), Ali Fasir (Abdulla Yameen 90′), Riham Abdul Ghanee (Ibrahim Mahudhee Hussain 73’), Hamza Mohamed (Mohamed Naim 80’)