The so-called sleeping giants of Asian football once again failed to wake up on the real stage, and make a mark on the foreign soil. The home side won the match convincingly after scoring two goals in either half of the game. Substitute Khairul Amri scored the first goal with just 3 minutes to spare in the first half while Farul Nawaz scored the second just 4 minute into the second half.
This was the first match for the Blue Tigers since they bagged the crown of Nehru Cup at home. There were lots of expectations after that match under the supervision of new coach Wim Kovermans. India already have a very poor track record on the foreign soil. Everybody expected them to do better this time since this Sunil Chhetri team is full of confidence, experience & stamina.
The Indian side started the match in their preferred 4-4-1-1 combination, while the Radojko Avramovic’s side started in 4-4-2 formation with Alexander Duric and Fazrul Nawaz up front. The Blue Tigers took control of the match in first 15 minutes and Singapore was left with the occasional counter through the middle, but the visitors defence, led by Gouramangi Moirangthem, was proving to be a tough nut to crack. The entire situation turned around for the hosts when Khairul Amri was introduced by the hosts in the place of injured Shi Jiayi. He changed the entire complexion of the game by scoring the first goal for the hosts, utilizing a poor clearance by the visiting defenders in the 42nd minute of the game, and Subrata Paul couldn’t do anything. The first half ended with a 1-0 lead for the hosts.
The hosts doubled the lead just after the start of the second half, courtesy of Fazrul Nawaz. Syed Rahim Nabi was left chasing Mustafic down the left and was not able to stop the Tampines Rovers midfielder from launching a perfect grounder that eluded the entire Indian defence. Fazrul then calmly placed the ball into the top corner.
Indian coach Kovermans made few substitutions to change the momentum of the match. He brought Robin Singh in the place of off-colour Sunil Chhetri, but he too failed to make a mark for the national side. The Blue Tigers looked quite frustrated as they couldn’t create a decent opening to threaten the Singaporean defence, and looked out of ideas. The misery of the Indian side could have been extended, but the reliable hands of Subrata Paul denied Singapore from scoring another one during the dying moments of the game.
The Indian side is here to improve their FIFA ranking & make an impact. It was thought before the match that this Indian side will beat the much superior ranked Singapore after waking up from sleep, and will improve their FIFA ranking. But the attempts of rousing the sleeping giant from its sleep went completely in vain, and unfortunately the giant remained asleep.
SCORE: Singapore 2 (Khairul Amri 42′, Fazrul Nawaz 49′) – 0 India
Izwan Mahbud – Shaiful Esah, Baihakki Khaizan, Shi Jiayi (39′ Khairul Amri), Shahdan Sulaiman (89′ Hafiz Abu Sujad), Aleksandar Duric (90′ Firdaus Kasman), Fazrul Nawaz (66′ Fazli Ayob), Hariss Harun [C], Mustafic Fahrudin (75′ Isa Halim), Safuwan Baharudin, Juma’at Jantan
Substitutes: Hyrulnizam Juma’at, Joey Sim; Raihan Rahman, Daniel Bennett, Irwan Shah, Jufri Taha, Yasir Hanapi
Subrata Pal – Nirmal Chettri, Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh, Raju Eknath Gaikwad (65′ Gurwinder Singh), Syed Rahim Nabi (82′ Denzil Franco) – Sanju Pradhan (Jewel Raja Sheikh), Mehtab Hossain (82′ Joaquim Abranches), Lenny Rodrigues, Clifford Miranda (77′ Anthony Pereira) – Francis Fernandes – Sunil Chhetri [C] (Robin Singh)
Substitutes: Karanjit Singh, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury; Alwyn George