Singapore’s unbeaten start to the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers came to an end on Thursday as they just did not have enough quality to match Saudi Arabia in a 3-0 defeat at the King Abdullah Sport City Stadium.
Although they had picked up four points from their opening two qualifiers to sit top of Group D, Singapore entered the game knowing they were clear underdogs against one of the Asia’s traditional powerhouses.
The Lions did their best to hold out for as long as they could, their resistance was broken in the 28th minute when Abdulellah Al-Malki broke forward down the left on the overlap and cleverly cut the ball back for it to be swept home by Abdulfattah Asiri.
The hosts had an excellent chance to edge further ahead a minute before the break when they were awarded a penalty for Safuwan Baharudin’s clumsy challenge on Asiri, but Singapore goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud came to the rescue by guessing correctly to deny Abdullah Al-Hamdan from 12 yards.
But there was to be no denying Saudi Arabia and their 20-year-old striker in the 61st minute.
Having seen Mohammed Al-Breik swing an inviting cross into the box, Al-Hamdan ghosted in behind Safuwan to meet the delivery and – while his initial effort was smartly stopped by Izwan – he was on hand to finish on the rebound.
Just six minutes later, the result was put beyond doubt when and Al-Hamdan was once again in the thick of the action, beating the offside trap to race through before unselfishly playing the ball across the face of goal to leave Asiri with a simple finish at the far post.
The Green Falcons could have added a couple more in the closing stages of the tie but Izwan was determined to limit the damage and made a handful of excellent stops, although it is still the Saudis who have moved top of the group with the three points.
SAUDI ARABIA: Mohammed Al-Owais, Mohammed Al-Breik, Ziyad Al-Sahafi, Abdullah Madu, Yasser Al-Shahrani, Abdulellah Al-Malki (Abdullah Al-Khaibari 85’), Abdullah Otayf (Abdulrahman Al-Dossari 80’), Yahya Al-Shehri (Firas Al-Buraikan 75’), Abdulfattah Asiri, Hattan Bahebri, Abdullah Al-Hamdan.
SINGAPORE: Izwan Mahbud, Zulqarnaen Suzliman (Nazrul Nazari 54’), Irfan Fandi, Safuwan Baharudin, Baihakki Khaizan, Darren Teh, Shahdan Sulaiman, Hariss Harun, Yasir Hanapi (Shawal Anuar 66’), Faris Ramli (Gabriel Quak 79’), Ikhsan Fandi.