Football: Singapore restrict Syria to 1-0 World Cup qualifying win

Singapore's Baihakki Bin Khaizan (R) vies with Qatar's Sebastian Soria (L) during their international friendly football match on Aug 28, 2015 at the Al-Sadd stadium in Doha. The match is a part of Qatar’s preparation for the 2018 World Cup qualifyi
Singapore's Baihakki Bin Khaizan (R) vies with Qatar's Sebastian Soria (L) during their international friendly football match on Aug 28, 2015 at the Al-Sadd stadium in Doha. The match is a part of Qatar’s preparation for the 2018 World Cup qualifying matches. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE- Singapore fell to its first defeat in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers after a 1-0 loss to Syria at the neutral venue of Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat,Oman.

The Lions limited the Syrians to just one shot on target in a first-half even though the Syrians dominated in terms of possession and could have taken the lead in the opening 45 minutes had Hafiz Abu Sujad and Khairul Amri been sharper when put through on goal.

But Syria finally broke the deadlock in the 59th minute when midfielder Sanharib Malki dribbled past right-back Nazrul Nazari on the left flank and floated a cross in for an unmarked Ouday Abdul Jaffal to head in from point-blank range.

Striker Amri then had a chance to equalise immediately but his shot from inside the area came off the post for an agonising miss in his 101st match for the Republic.

The best chance of the night would fall to Amri later in the 83rd minute but with only the goalkeeper to beat the far post, the 30-year-old's shot was steered away by the Syrian custodian for a corner.

With this result in the Omani capital, the Lions sit second in Group E on four points after three games, two behind Syria. Singapore had earlier beaten Cambodia 4-0 and earned a creditable 0-0 draw against Japan, who are third with three points but with a game in hand.

Singapore will now have three successive home matches at the National Stadium starting with an Oct 8 clash against Afghanistan before they face Cambodia on Oct 13 and a mammoth clash with Japan on Nov 12.

drajac@sph.com.sg