SAITAMA, JAPAN - In a shock result, Singapore have held Asian giants Japan to a 0-0 draw in 2018 World Cup qualifers, earning a precious away point.
Coming on the back of a 4-0 victory over Cambodia in their Group E opening match last Thursday, few gave the Lions, ranked 154 in the world, a chance against Japan (world ranking 52). But a Man of the Match performance by goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud almost single-handedly kept Singapore in the match, with the custodian making 18 saves.
Despite being egged on by a boisterous crowd at the Saitama Stadium, the Japanese were unable to find a way past the inspired Izwan. And when the shot-stopper was finally beaten by a ferocious Keisuke Honda free-kick in the 72nd minute, the upright came to Singapore's rescue.
The draw means that Singapore has now collected four points from their opening two matches in Group E and now top their group ahead of Syria, Japan, Cambodia and Afghanistan, who have all played one match each.