Iraq 7 (Kerrar Jasim 4', Younis Mahmood 10',61’,90’, Hawar Mohd 22', Nashat Akram 36', Mustafa Karim 49’ )
Singapore 1 (Isa Halim 28')
Photo courtesy of FAS
So much was promised at the start of the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers; Beating our fiercest rivals and neighbours Malaysia convincingly, and subsequently drawing a group that we had achieved good results against in the past. For the first time, there was genuine hope that Singapore might sneak through into the 4th round for the first time in history.
Alas, six games later, with zero points accumulated, two goals scored, and 20 goals conceded, it’s clear that for Singapore to make that step, much more work is needed, certainly much more than playing in the Malaysian Super League week in and out.
While there was hope in securing at least a point against Iraq after coming back from 2 goals down to draw 2-2 with Azerbaijan in a friendly, it was clear after 10 minutes that Singapore was in for a long day, going 2 goals down.
Kerrar Jasim opened the scoring with shot from outside the box that squirms past Hassan Sunny, after Shahril Ishak had given the ball away cheaply. Younis Mahmood, the 2007 Asian Cup MVP doubled the lead just 6 minutes later after he latched onto a through pass, outsmarted Baihakki Khaizan, and slots the ball past Hassan Sunny. Singapore players appealed for offside to no avail, which replays did seem to suggest that it was a wrong decision.
Singapore looked like they lost their confidence and just couldn’t keep possession. Every single time the ball passes the halfway line, Singapore will somehow just give the ball back to Iraq. Another through ball then found Younis Mahmoud, who again raced past the whole Singapore backline. Hassan Sunny came out a fraction too late, and was adjudged to bring the former down.
While the contact seemed slight, the referee pointed to the spot immediately to the complaints of the Singapore players. Up step Hawar Mohd, who curled in a penalty with perfection beyond the reach of Hassan Sunny, despite guessing the right way.
Singapore started to respond after conceding a third, and true enough, they pulled one back. Shahdan Sulaiman found Shahril with a through pass, who then held up the ball brilliantly and sent it onto the path of Isa Halim with a little chip. Isa took the ball in his stride with a great first touch, slotting the ball past Iraq custodian Mohd Kassid with his weaker left foot. It was a great team goal by Singapore, and was definitely refreshing to see them shy away from the usual direct football.
It was not to be a comeback though, as Singapore conceded yet another penalty. This time round, there could be no complaints after Baihakki was caught on the wrong side of Ali Hussien, and bundles him over from behind. Nashat Akram steps up this time round and send it past Hassan Sunny, who again guessed the correct side but just couldn’t reach it.
In a bid to chase back the deficit, Singapore head coach Raddy Avramovic send on Fazrul Nawaz for goalscorer Isa Halim after the break. While Singapore pushed more in the second half, Iraq were just a class above. Just 5 minutes into the 2nd, Mustafa Karim made it five as he received the ball in the box, pulls back, and fires in a shot in off the post that left Hassan with no chance.
Younis Mahmoud then ensured he went home with the match ball with two further goals to complete his hat-trick, including a well taken lob over Hassan Sunny in the 90th minute.
While it’s encouraging to see Singapore try to play a positive game and taking the game to Iraq, perhaps a more cautious game would have helped. On any other days, Singapore might have taken a win against lesser opposition, seeing the number of chances they did create in the 2nd half. However, defence is just as important and missing Safuwan Baharudin and Harris Harun clearly did not help but Baihakki and Daniel Bennett simply did not turn up for the game allowing countless through balls past them for the impressive Younis Mahmoud to latch on and create trouble for Singapore. A much better effort is needed from the defenders to protect Hassan Sunny, who was left exposed to improve Singapore’s chance of winning the AFF cup this December.
Singapore starting lineup: Hassan Sunny, Ruzaini Zainal (Delwinder Singh 55’), Baihakki Khaizan, Daniel Bennett, Irwan Shah, Mustafic Fahrudin, Isa Halim (Fazrul Nawaz 45’), Shahdan Sulaiman, Shi Jiayi, Qiu Li (Agu Casmir 71’), Shahril Ishak
Iraq starting lineup: Mohd Kassid(gk), Badem Abbas, Qusay Muneer, Nashat Akram, Younis Mahmood(c), Hawar Mohd (Luay Salah 73’), Kerrar Jasim (Mustafa Karim 30’), Salem Shaker, Ali Erhaimi, Samal Saeed, Muthana Khalid Salih(Saad Abdulamir 89’)
Yellow cards: Hassan Sunny, Daniel Bennett, Baihakki Khaizan.