Who played well and who didn't? Deepan Raj critiques Singapore's lineup after the Lions' agonising loss to Malaysia on Saturday evening...
Goalkeeper: Hassan Sunny 6
In all fairness, Hassan did not have much to do despite all the possession that Malaysia had. Was caught out for the final goal when he went forward to try and head in an injury time equaliser from a free-kick, leaving his goal exposed.
Right Back: Ismadi Mukhtar 6
Struggled to cope with Amri Yahyah’s pace and trickery all night. A miscued clearance of his, in the first half also fell right onto Safee Sali’s path but thankfully for Ismadi, the post came to the rescue. Stange highlighted Ismadi’s attacking runs prior to the tournament but we saw none of it. Three matches and not one convincing performance from the Tampines Rovers man begs the question of whether there were really no other right backs worthy of selection from Stange.
Centre Back: Shakir Hamzah 7
A solid performance from the LionsXII defender, as he filled in at centre back in Baihakki’s absence. Robust in every challenge that he put in, Shakir hardly put a foot wrong against Malaysia. A 56th minute challenge to deny Norshahrul a clear shot at goal after the Malaysian striker had rounded Hassan Sunny was a moment to remember for Shakir.
Centre Back: Safuwan Baharudin 7
Played what was perhaps his best game of the tournament, putting in a real shift at the back. Managed to stifle the Malaysian strikers for the majority of the match. Was thrown up front as Singapore searched for an equaliser at 1-0 and it was his freekick that led to Khariul Amri’s goal.
Left Back: Shaiful Esah 6
Prior to the game, Malaysia head coach Dollah Salleh singled out Shaiful Esah as a man to watch due to his set piece deliveries. But on match day, the left back failed to produce. His crosses and deliveries from free kicks were erratic and caused little danger for Malaysia. Was also caught out of position for the opener.
Right Midfield: Fazrul Nawaz 5
Thrust into the line-up in place of the disappointing Sahil Suhaimi, Fazrul Nawaz was certainly no improvement. Despite an encouraging start, with his cross-cum-shot almost catching Malaysia out and a few dangerous crosses, the Home United forward started to be a source of frustration as the match progressed. The fans were audibly getting on his back and it got to the player, with Fazrul choosing to play the safe pass backwards rather than surge forward with the ball when in possession.
Central Midfield: Hariss Harun 8
Once again, he was Singapore’s best player. With each match he plays in the red kit, the press are quickly running out of superlatives. Oozed class with his every touch as he glided about in centre midfield and his interception was important for his side as he protected the back four. The only stain in his performance was his failure to clear as he swung his boot at the ball and missed in the lead up to Safee Sali’s opener.
Central Midfield: Shahril Ishak [c] 6
Played in a deeper role as Singapore tried to cope with the loss of Shahdan Sulaiman. It has not been the best of tournaments for the captain and he failed to rise to the occasion against Malaysia. Showed an abundance of energy and determination to get forward but lost out where it mattered in centre midfield to Safiq Rahim. Perhaps, Shahril’s international days are numbered going by the evidence of this tournament.
Left Midfield: Faris Ramli 6
He was the man of the season for LionsXII and was tipped by many to shine in the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup but ultimately he struggled to make any impression whatsoever. Against Malaysia, his display was simply lacklustre. A clear indication of his horrid performance was when in an attempt to control Shahril Ishak’s cross field pass, he let the ball go between his legs and out for a throw in. Was more encouraging in the second half as he ran at Malaysia’s defence with one move almost resulting in a goal with the ball rolling just inches wide. A match and tournament to forget for Faris.
Attacking Midfield: Shahfiq Ghani 5
Fans had been calling for Stange to field Shahfiq Ghani, especially after the player’s strong performances in the recent Asian Games. He was given the opportunity but not only did he fail to grab make the most of it, he was also very disappointing. Failed to assert himself and was almost invisible on the pitch. Did take the initiative to drop deep and get on the ball but failed to do anything meaningful with it. Hauled off in the second half and deservedly so.
Striker: Khairul Amri 7
The biggest of occasions call for the biggest of players and once again, Khairul Amri answered the call. Made use of his predatory instincts to be at the right place and time to turn the ball in when Safuwan’s free kick was spilled. Made some good runs with the ball but was often left isolated and outnumbered by Malaysian defenders when in good positions. Stange must wish he had players who were willing to work half as hard as Amri did throughout the tournament.
Substitute: Hafiz Abu Sujad 5
Came on to replace the injured Shaiful Esah and did well initially, even going on a rampaging run into the Malaysia half. But proved to be the ultimate villain on the night as he conceded a penalty, his barging into the back of Amri Yahyah deemed to be a foul by the Oman referee. A cruel decision but a more experienced defender would have not done what Hafiz did.
Substitute: Amriul Adli 6
With Safuwan pushed up in search of an equaliser, Amirul Adli came on to play at centre back. A surprise pick in the squad, the 18-year-old played with the heart of a Lion. Was aggressive in his defending and was more than stable at the back. Encouraging signs from Amirul against Malaysia as he is primed to take over eventually in the starting centre back role, especially as Baihakki continues to disappoint at every opportunity.
Substitute: Gabriel Quak 6
An improvement on Fazrul Nawaz, Quak was more useful when in possession as he continuously tried to take on his defender and aim crosses towards the frontmen in the box. Playing on the right flank, Gabriel was positive in everything he did after coming on. Surely with his pace and trickery, would have been a better pick in the winger position as opposed to fielding strikers out of position. Another question for Stange to answer in the aftermath of Singapore's elimination.
Photos: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo