Football: Battling show by Lions as they rebound to draw 1-1 with Mauritius via Ikhsan's strike

Singapore's Irfan Fandi (second from right) celebrates scoring their second goal during their friendly against Mauritius at Bishan Stadium on Sept 7, 2018.
Singapore's Irfan Fandi (second from right) celebrates scoring their second goal during their friendly against Mauritius at Bishan Stadium on Sept 7, 2018.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Singapore's Ikhsan Fandi in action during their friendly against Mauritius at Bishan Stadium on Sept 7, 2018.
Singapore's Ikhsan Fandi in action during their friendly against Mauritius at Bishan Stadium on Sept 7, 2018.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Although there was a lack of a cutting edge, a gritty display on a slippery pitch earned the Lions a 1-1 draw against Mauritius in Fandi Ahmad's first game in charge on Friday (Sept 7) night.

Appointed interim national coach by the Football Association of Singapore in May, the 56-year-old promised that his men will play positively and attack.

Giving first caps to brothers Zulfadhmi and Zulqarnaen Suzliman in a youthful line-up that also included his sons Irfan and Ikhsan Fandi, the former Singapore captain signalled his intention to rejuvenate the national team in his tenure, which will end after November's Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup.

But the match, played before more than 3,000 fans at a rain-soaked Bishan Stadium, started on a disastrous note for the hosts as striker Justin Jonathan was left unmarked to sweep the ball across the line in the fifth minute, after goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud parried Jeremy Villeneuve's initial shot.

That stirred Singapore into life, as the match became a feisty battle with no shortage of aggressive tackles and players clattering into each other.

And the Lions got their reward in the 74th minute when attacking midfielder Shahril Ishak squared the ball for Ikhsan, Fandi's second son, to place into the net.

After this encouraging display, Singapore's next friendly is on Sept 11 at Bishan Stadium against Fiji.