Lions undone by penalties in Bahrain friendly
The Lions trailed as early as the 11th minute, with Mohamed Al-Rumaihi sending goalkeeper Hassan Sunny the wrong way from the spot to put Bahrain in the lead after Baihakki Khaizan had brought down Waleed Al Hayam with a rash challenge.
That seemed like the wake-up call that V Sundramoorthy’s charges needed as they gradually settled into the game and created a number of goal-scoring opportunities against a team 33 spots above them in the FIFA rankings.
On 21 minutes, a quick counter-attack led by captain Hariss Harun led to Khairul Amri releasing Gabriel Quak bearing down on goal. The Geylang International winger jinked past two defenders and perhaps should have done better than lashing over the bar.
Then in the 35th minute, Safuwan Baharudin – playing in the No.10 role behind Amri – somehow scuffed his shot in front of goal after receiving Hariss’s knock-down from Juma’at Jantan’s long ball.
The PDRM FA captain would make amends just two minutes later as he anticipated Baihakki’s searching diagonal ball well before out-leaping Bahrain custodian Abbas Ahmed Khamis in the box to send home a looping header for the Lions’ equaliser.
The sides went into half-time all level, but that was to change just five minutes after the restart.
Substitute Abdulla Yaser stepped up from 12 yards out to send Hassan the wrong way again, after his outswinging corner led to an infringement by a Singapore player inside the area.
Sundram rang the changes thereafter, with Madhu Mohana replacing Quak while Iqbal Hussain and Sahil Suhaimi came on for Hafiz Sujad and Amri respectively.
However, the Lions struggled to find the cutting edge upfront as the Bahrainis duly closed out the victory with another penalty a minute from time.
After Madhu had brought down Rashed Al Hooti with a reckless challenge inside the area, Ismail Abdul-Latif stepped up to thump home a clinical penalty despite Hassan diving the right way.
Singapore could have pulled one back in regulation time when Yasir Hanapi connected well with Madhu’s long throw, but the former’s header was well held by Abbas.
The result marked Sundram’s third defeat in his short reign as Singapore coach so far and he will be hoping for better fortunes when they face up against Malaysia and Hong Kong next month in preparation for the year-end Suzuki Cup.
Main Photo: Weixiang Lim/FFT