Singapore 2 Guam 2: Lions come from behind twice

Singapore avoided defeat for a second time in a week as they toiled to a 2-2 draw in a friendly against Guam at Jalan Besar Stadium.

The Lions were unlucky to concede two late goals in their last game against Thailand and coach Bernd Stange was determined not to lose against a side 14 places below Singapore in the FIFA rankings.

Guam’s Shawn Nicklaw gave the away side a well-deserved lead late in the first half, but Singapore responded with an equaliser from Faris Ramli shortly after the break.

The visitors got their second goal in fortunate circumstances when Jason Cunliffe scored in the 72nd minute, but Singapore then scored a decisive equaliser through defender Baihakki Khaizan.

Stange made several changes on Wednesday evening with Baihakki, Shakir Hamzah and captain Shahril Ishak all drafted back into the starting line-up after missing the defeat to Thailand.

Guam’s coach Gary White also sent out a strong team, though he was missing prominent LA Galaxy player AJ DeLaGarza.

Singapore started brightly with eye-catching fluent passes in the first few minutes but it was the visitors who almost went ahead through bizarre circumstances.

With only three minutes gone, Baihakki threaded a harmless back pass to his goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud that was severely under hit.

Forward Shane Malcolm was quickest to pounce on the loose ball and he calmly rounded Izwan, only to shoot into the side netting.

Malcolm was again in the thick of things just minutes later, heading wide from team captain Jason Cunliffe’s free kick and then striking the post with a ferocious shot.

Singapore earned a free kick in the 10th minute which Guam’s goalkeeper Dallas Jaye could only palm straight to Sahil Suhaimi, but his attempted lob was under-hit.

The hosts pushed hard for the lead and in the 12th minute, vice-captain Harris Harun squared brilliantly to Shahril Ishak but his ambitious overhead kick failed to hit the target or trouble the goalkeeper.

Baihakki had a fantastic opportunity to make amends for his earlier error by heading past the keeper from a Singapore corner but it was hacked off the line by defender Alexander Lee.

Sahil continued to impress, shooting a free kick straight into Guam’s goalkeeper and blazing a left-footed shot over the bar in the 22nd minute.

Guam duly took the lead with ten minutes to go to the half.

Malcolm teased the Singapore defenders on the right wing before stabbing a cross into the box, which was flicked into the goal by Shawn Nicklaw to give Guam a 1-0 lead heading into the break.

Bernd Stange's men came out in the second half with added impetus, and Gabriel Quak's introduction looked an inspired one.

The winger sent several dangerous crosses into the box, including one that led to a handball shout that the referee waved away.

Singapore finally equalised in the 54th minute, with Faris Ramli heading powerfully past the goalkeeper after more good work on the right side by his teammates.

The visitors were defending stoutly at this point in time, but suddenly restored their one-goal advantage against the run of play in the 72nd minute.

Substitute Shafiq Ghani had only just walked on to the pitch when Cunliffe got on the scoresheet, powering home a shot that goalkeeper Izwan misjudged and should have done better with.

Shahfiq's introduction proved vital though, as his shot on the edge of the box in the 78th minute was parried away; Baihakki tapped in from the resulting corner to level the scores once again for Singapore.

Despite a late flurry from both sides as time ran down, the game ended in a 2-2 draw.

Photo: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo