Ikhsan Fandi, Shahril Ishak combine to earn Singapore draw against Mauritius

Singapore vs Mauritius at Bishan Stadium
Kelvin Leong Kelvin Leong

Singapore managed a comeback 1-1 draw against Mauritius in Fandi Ahmad’s first international game as Lions head coach at the Bishan Stadium on Friday night.

Mauritius silenced the crowd early on through a Jonathan Justin goal before Ikhsan Fandi equalised with his first international goal in what was his first start.

Singapore were dealt an early blow in the fourth minute when former Etoile FC striker Jonathan, who played in the S.League in 2011, opened the scoring.

Some good work by Jeremy Villeneuve saw him cut in and rifle a low shot at Izwan Mahbud who could only palm it out for Jonathan to smash home the opener.

The Lions began to find their rhythm after conceding with a couple of long-range efforts.

First it was Ikhsan who tested goalkeeper Kevin Jean-Louis with a speculative shot in the 15th minute before Safuwan Baharudin and Zulfadhmi Suzliman went close.

Safuwan’s half-volley in the 21st minute caught Jean-Louis out but it was debutant Zulfadhmi who had the perfect opportunity a minute later when he was clean through on goal but his shot was pushed out by the goalkeeper for a corner.

There was a moment of panic in the Singapore defence on 28 minutes when Jonathan and Safuwan went on a footrace and the ex-Etoile man won the ball and laid it off to Gary Noel who scuffed his shot with only Izwan to beat.

Singapore almost leveled matters when the ball fell to Izzdin outside the box in the 39th minute and he lashed it through a sea of bodies but Jean-Louis produced a superb save to keep his team’s lead intact.

Fandi brought on veteran forward Shahril Ishak at the break for Nazrul Nazari and the change immediately gave Singapore more balance in attack.

Izwan was forced into the first save of the second period when Villeneuve played Noel in but he was denied by the alert Singapore custodian.

Izzdin stung the gloves of Jean-Louis on the opposite end in the 56th minute with a 25-yard scorcher as the Lions continued to press on.

Just when things were on the up, Fandi was forced into a change as Irfan went off injured to be replaced by Udon Thani centre-back Baihakki Khaizan on 58 minutes.

The substitute almost scored in the 67th minute when Yasir Hanapi floated in a pinpoint cross but Baihakki’s glancing header went wide.

Shahril’s class came through with 16 minutes left when his one-two with Ikhsan saw him find space in the box before turning his marker and laying it off for Ikhsan to score his first international goal.

Khairul Amri came on right after Ikhsan’s goal and almost gave Singapore the winner with his first strike on goal, only for the Mauritius stopper to pull off comfortable save.

Singapore poured forward in search of the goal to seal victory but Mauritius held firm to ensure they got a share of the spoils on a wet, rainy night.

Singapore: Izwan Mahbud (GK) (Hassan Sunny 71’), Zulqarnaen Suzliman (Faritz Hameed 64’), Irfan Fandi (Baihakki Khaizan 58’), Safuwan Baharudin, Shakir Hamzah, Nazrul Nazari (Shahril Ishak 45’), Hariss Harun (C), Izzdin Shafiq (M. Anumanthan 61’), Zulfadhmi Suzliman, Yasir Hanapi, Ikhsan Fandi (Khairul Amri 74’)

Mauritius: Jean-Louis Kevin (GK), Speville Jonathan, Augustin Fabrice (Martinet Warren 75’), St Martin Walter (Francois Jordan 82’), Langue Adel, Villeneuve Jeremy, Noel Gary, Patate Jean Jacques (Brasse Fabrice 82’), Justin Jonathan (Nabab Stephan 71’), Rasolfonirina Francis (Jocelyn Mervyn 89/), Rose Lindsay (C)