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Thursday, 16 August 2012

Duric brace puts Lions back to winning ways
Reported by: Jia Hui Chicharito

Singapore    2 (Aleksandar Duric 7’, 21’)

Hong Kong   0

The Singapore Lions snapped their 10-month winless run with a 2-0 friendly win over Hong Kong at Jurong West Stadium last night. Singapore last tasted victory in October last year, where they beat the Philippines 2-0 at home. Since then, they have not won a single game until last night's friendly. 

Veteran forward Aleksandar Duric proved that he is still able to produce the goods with a brace in the first half.

Singapore started brightly and took the game to visitors Hong Kong. But it was the visitors who came close to taking an early lead just four minutes in when Chan Siu Ki sent a free header sailing over the bar off Lam Kok Hei’s inswinging cross.

The Lions however, took the lead three minutes later through Duric who started and finished the move himself.

Playing the ball wide out left to Qiu Li, he made a run into the box before getting onto the end of Qiu’s cross to gently send a header past a hapless Yapp Hung Fai for the first goal.

The lively Lee Hong Lim could have equalised for the visitors minutes later but dragged his shot wide on the other end.

Duric then added his second of the game in the 21st minute with a goal he created himself. It came when he flicked the ball forward for strike partner Khairul Nizam, who was in an offside position. Knowing that he was offside, Nizam walked away from the ball.

But Duric did not give up just yet as he chased after the loose ball – his own ‘pass’ – before shooting past Yapp.

Baihakki Khaizan could have tripled the lead for Singapore four minutes later as he flashed a header off Shahdan Sulaiman’s corner wide. And then there was the miss of the game in the 28th minute from Nizam who fired over with only the keeper to beat after Duric had done well to cut the ball back.  

With that, the Lions took a two-goal cushion into the break.

Right after the break, Lam Hok Hei broke free of the backline and rounded Singapore goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud but put his shot wide instead of tapping into an empty net.

The second half was not intense as compared to the first, especially with the home side starting to slacken off. Half-time substitute Khairul Amri could have announced his return to the national fold with a goal but headed against the bar from fellow substitute Juma’at Jantan’s cross.   

Amri had another opportunity to get his name on the scoresheet in the 68th minute but his effort this time round was straight into the palms of Yapp. Hong Kong’s Au Yeung Yiu Chun then nearly pulled one back on 77 minutes to set up a tense finale but sent his header just wide as Singapore eventually held on to a 2-0 win.

Second best

Speaking right after the game, Hong Kong coach Ernest Merrick felt that Singapore were deserving winners on a night where his side were second best. 

“I thought Singapore played very well and deserved the win. They were sharper to the ball than we were.”

“We lost a couple of key players (prior to this game) but that should not be an excuse for losing today.”

Merrick was particularly impressed by Lions’ two-goal hero Duric as he added: “He made our lives very difficult in the first half and it’s a credit to see someone his age do so well (at the international level).”

When asked about who else from the Singapore team impressed him other than Duric, his reply was midfielder Mustafic Fahrudin.

“Your (Singapore’s) defence was pretty solid today. But no. 15, I don’t know his name, impressed me. In Hong Kong, he caused us a lot of problems and again he did today before he went off.”

“He’s not the sharpest, the fittest or the fastest player but he has a very good footballing brain and created numerous chances for the team.” 

Pleased, but we could have scored more

Singapore’s Radojko Avramovic on the other hand was pleased with the result as well as performance but thought they could have scored more.

“I’m generally pleased with the result today. In the first half, we controlled the game but we could have scored a few more goals.”

Two-goal hero Aleksandar Duric echoed his coach’s sentiments, saying: “It’s good to win after so long. It’s good for the team, especially our confidence.”

“But there’s still a long way to go in terms of preparing for the Suzuki Cup and there’s still (some) time to try out other players.”  

Singapore: Izwan Mahbud; Daniel Bennett, Baihakki Khaizan, Hariss Harun (C), Jufri Taha (Juma’at Jantan 46’); Qiu Li (Nazrul Nazari 60’), Mustafic Fahrudin (Isa Halim 72’), Shi Jiayi, Shahdan Sulaiman (Irwan Shah 77’); Khairul Nizam (Khairul Amri 46’), Aleksandar Duric (Shahfiq Ghani 81’)  

Unused subs: Hyrulnizam Juma’at, Joey Sim, Yasir Hanapi, Delwinder Singh, Safirul Sulaiman

Hong Kong: Yapp Hung Fai; Lee Chi Ho, Bai He (Leung Tsz Chun 90’), Cheung Kin Fung (Chak Ting Fung 61’), Lo Kwan Yee (C); Huang Yang, Lam Ka Wai (Yip Tsz Chun 86’), Leung Chun Pong (Tsang Chi Hau 44’); Chan Siu Ki (Lee Ka Yiu 79’), Lam Hok Hei, Lee Hong Lim (Au Yeung Yiu Chung 64’) Chung Unused subs: Leung Hing Kit, Liu Songwei, Tam Lok Hin

Yellow card(s): - (Singapore); - (Hong Kong)

Attendance: 837

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