Singapore 5 Brunei 1: Resounding win for Lions ahead of World Cup qualifiers
Khairul Amri scored twice, while Hariss Harun, Shaiful Esah and Fazrul Nawaz netted one apiece to inspire the Lions to a thumping victory against a weakened Brunei side in front of 1,141 fans.
Singapore coach Bernd Stange opted to make just two changes to the line-up which started the 2-1 win in Bangladesh a week ago, with Izwan Mahbud coming in for Hassan Sunny in goal, while Nazrul Nazari replacing Ismadi Mukhtar at right-back.
Meanwhile, in the absence of players from DPMM FC, Brunei counterpart Mike Wong was forced to field an inexperienced team.
That gulf in standards between the two sides was apparent as the Lions asserted control early on, duly taking the lead after seven minutes via a neat team move.
Izzdin Shafiq’s slide-rule pass picked out Fazrul on the wing, who in turned put a searching cross into the box for Amri to head home into the bottom right corner.
The home side continued to enjoy the lion’s share of the possession after the goal, creating openings albeit without putting the resulting chances away.
Amri was unable to fire on target from Nazrul’s cross, while Brunei keeper Fakhrul Zalhazmi was subsequently alert to stop a couple of headers from Fazrul and Safuwan Baharudin.
Brunei’s first real opportunity came on 23 minutes when Hamizan Aziz Sulaiman got the better of Zulfahmi Arifin before going through on goal, but he was unable to beat Izwan one-on-one.
Stange’s side eventually found their second goal after 37 minutes, when another one of Nazrul’s crosses left the Bruneian defence in sixes and sevens.
The ball found its way to Hariss, who wasted little time in unleashing a daisy-cutter beyond Fakhrul from the edge of the box.
Just as it seemed like Singapore were going into cruise control, Wong’s men pulled one back just four minutes later.
Izwan’s attempt to play the ball out of defence backfired terribly when Mui’z Sisa charged down the ball and then instinctively smashed home an effort which grazed the underside of the bar before going in.
Any fears of a comeback were extinguished shortly after, however, as Singapore restored their two-goal advantage just before the break.
Shaiful made a late run into the box to receive Hafiz’s incisive through-ball, before slamming a sizzling finish inside the right-hand post.
It was normal service resumed after the restart, as the Lions continued to flourish in the attacking third and duly got the fourth goal via a dead ball right before the hour mark.
Hafiz had been brought down just outside the box by Hamizan and Amri curled home a brilliant free-kick which proved to be too hot for Fakhrul to handle.
Safuwan’s 30-yard free-kick then crashed off the right-hand post, before Madhu Mohana’s header from Shaiful’s corner was well held by Fakhrul.
The home team eventually rounded off their scoring in the 65th minute as Fazrul collected a Safuwan flick before steering a neat half-volley inside the left-hand post.
Balestier Khalsa keeper Zaiful Nizam was then thrown on for his first ever international cap, while fellow substitutes Gabriel Quak and Shahril Ishak spurned gilt-edged opportunities to net further goals.
Those misses ultimately did not matter though, as the Lions ran out 5-1 winners on the night.
They will hope to carry on this form in the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers over the next two weeks, in which they take on Cambodia and then Japan away.
Image credit: Syukry Mirza/Football Association of Singapore