Red-carded Madhu not totally at fault: Baihakki

Singapore's veteran defender Baihakki Khaizan has leapt to the defence of international colleague Madhu Mohana, following his team-mate's dismissal.

Madhu was shown a straight red card by Korean referee Kim Jong Hyeok for a deliberate elbow on Syrian double goal-scorer Omar Kharbin in the 55th minute.

But Baihakki felt while his partner was heavily penalised for his offence, his Syrian opponent was not entirely guilt-free either.

Baihakki said: "Honestly, I was observing the No. 8 player (Kharbin), and he gave a step on (Madhu's) boots, which could also have been a red card too.

"But I thought Madhu could have been more cool at that moment and acted wiser.

"That happens in football - it all happened in a split second.

"Any time when we have to play with just 10 men, it'll be difficult."

However, despite losing one of their centre-backs, the Lions managed to hold off the Syrian onslaught - and even pulled a goal back through Safuwan Baharudin's 88th-minute penalty.

Left-back Shaiful Esah said: "With 10 men, we still equalised.

"So you can see the character of our players."

Singapore will now head into their final Group E match next March against Afghanistan without the services of Madhu, who has now established himself as a first-team player.

But despite yesterday's loss, Singapore are almost certainly through to the third round of Asian Cup qualifiers.

They sit in third spot in Group E, with a four-point lead over fourth-placed Afghanistan.

Baihakki said: "We are making life a little more difficult for ourselves. It's another four months to go, and we will just go into the game hoping to make it to the Asian Cup - that's our main target."

Skipper Hariss Harun added: "For us, it is back to the drawing board - we have to learn from these lessons."

Alvin Chia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2015, with the headline 'Red-carded Madhu not totally at fault: Baihakki'. Print Edition | Subscribe