Asian Games: Oman 3 Singapore 3

A Safuwan Baharudin header five minutes from time rescued a much-needed point for Singapore against Oman as the two teams drew 3-3 in a thrilling Group C encounter at the Hwaseong Stadium.

Oman struck first through Atem Al-Hamhami, but Singapore instantly replied in kind through Sahil Suhaimi, before further goals to Abdul Majeed Shamas and Saud Al-Farsi put the Omanis in a commanding position after half an hour.

Faris Ramli's sweet strike just before half time offered Singapore a way back into the game before Safuwan's equaliser capped off a courageous comeback from the Young Lions.

Having lost their respective first group games, both sides came into this game desperate for a positive result and it showed in a topsy-turvy first half which produced five goals.

Oman nearly scored inside the first 10 minutes when Anumanthan Mohan Kumar got caught on possession of the ball outside his own box, but forward Saud Al-Farsi somehow hit the post from three yards out after rounding Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny.

That was the prelude to what was about to come on 11 minutes as midfielder Hatem Al-Hamhami controlled an inside pass from the left before coolly curling a 25-yard effort past a diving Hassan.

That lead did not last long though as the Lions hit back within a minute.

Oman centre-back Mohannad Al-Hasani horribly miscued a clearance from Baihakki Khaizan’s long punt, and the ball fell into the path of Sahil Suhaimi, who needed no second invitations to slide a shot through opposition goalkeeper Mazin Al-Kasbi's legs.

The Omanis went on the attack again only to be met with strong resistance from the on-form Hassan in the Singapore goal.

The Warriors FC custodian got down low to deny Ahmed Al-Siyabi’s header from a corner, before keeping out Omer Al-Fazari’s follow-up effort in a wonderful double-save situation.

Oman kept coming, however, and their persistence paid off with two goals in four minutes.

A superb slide-rule pass from Al-Hamhami on 25 minutes caught out Baihakki and Al-Qaasimy Abdul Rahman in the Lions’ backline as Abdul Majeed Shamas stole in to poke the ball past the onrushing Hassan.

They soon extended their lead when Al-Siyabi exchanged a lovely one-two with a teammate, before floating in a delightful cross for Al-Farsi to plant his header beyond Hassan’s reach.

The double-blow stung Aide Iskandar’s boys and it took them a while before they managed to find their groove again.

Taking down a ball from the left inside the box two minutes before the break, the effervescent Faris Ramli cut inside two markers before bending a stupendous effort beyond the despairing dive of Al-Kasbi.

A goal down at half time, Aide opted to bring on Shakir Hamzah for Afiq Yunos to add more aggression down the flanks.

It was an inspired move as the 22-year-old kept the threat coming down his wing largely under his control.

As a result, the Omanis sought to attack their left flank and only managed to carved out two decent chances – a Shama close-range effort which was denied by the legs of Hassan and a Al-Siyabi shot which found the side netting.

That was as close as the Middle Eastern side got as the Young Lions gradually grew in confidence as the game wore on.

The attacking trio of Faris, Shahfiq Ghani and Sahil showed great pace on the counter and forced the Omanis into conceding a number of fouls which resulted in set pieces near their penalty box.

Shahfiq was not able to keep his 25-yard freekick down, while Sahil wasted a corner after Nazrul’s great work down the right had forced Mahmood Mabrook Nasib into heading behind.

The Singaporeans eventually made one of those chances count five minutes from time.

After Safuwan was fouled by Al-Hasani 35 yards from goal, Sahil floated a superb ball into the box for the defender to nod firmly past Al-Kasbi at his near post and spark wide celebrations from the Singapore bench.

Aide’s boys eventually rode out the four minutes of regulation time to earn their first point of the campaign.

They now go into their final group game against an already-qualified Palestine side on Sunday, with a fighting chance of making it into the last 16.

Main Image: Football Association of Singapore