Singapore start Asian Cup 2019 qualifiers with surprise draw

Singapore dug deep into their reservoirs to begin the AFC Asian Cup qualifying campaign with a hard-fought 0-0 draw against Bahrain.  

Ranked 36 spots above Singapore in the FIFA Rankings at 127, Bahrain saw much more of the ball in the matchup but Sundram’s men were disciplined in defending, especially in the second half while custodian Hassan Sunny played a key role in the second half to ensure a valuable point.

The Lions’ first clear-cut chance fell to Safuwan Baharudin in the 21st minute when a well-worked set-piece routine found him but the reliable utility man, playing at right wing, rushed his shot as Bahrain’s goalkeeper Sayed Mohamed gathered the ball comfortably.

Khairul Nizam, who came on after Khairul Amri suffered an early injury, somehow managed to miss from eight yards out after left-back Shakir Hamzah fed him an accurate cross.

Bahrain however, retaliated to Singapore’s defensive performance in the second half. They came out with more desire and more men were thrown up the pitch.

Substitute Ismaeel Abdulatif had the best chance to seal the game and earn three points for his side. He followed up after Hassan redirected Ahmed Ali’s shot in his path, but Ismaeel blazed it over the bar despite having an open goal.

The hosts continued to pile on the pressure but their attacking attempts were let down by poor finishing.

Sayed Redha and Abdullah Yaser had their shots wide while Mohammed Saad scuffed his shot, with the alert Singapore defence parrying out every threat and veteran Hassan Sunny commanding the penalty box.

Singapore next host Chinese Taipei and Turkmenistan in June and September respectively.

Photo: FAS