Football: Lions' 2-1 victory over Yemen gives renewed hope

The team during final training at the Al Muharraq Stadium in Bahrain.
The team during final training at the Al Muharraq Stadium in Bahrain.PHOTO: FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - The Lions' resurgence under Tatsuma Yoshida continues as they beat Yemen 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier at the Al Muharraq Stadium in Bahrain on Tuesday night (Nov 19).

This is the first time Singapore have won away against a team from the Middle East since a 2-1 win at Lebanon in a World Cup qualifier in 2008.

Starting with a 4-3-3 formation featuring Hazzuwan Halim, Ikhsan Fandi and Hafiz Nor up front, world No.159 Singapore started on the back foot as goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud had to stay alert to keep out speculative efforts from Ahmed Al-Haifi and Ahmed Al-Sarori in the opening exchanges.

The tide turned when Singapore took the lead against the run of play in the 19th minute, through Ikhsan's volley off a Shahdan Sulaiman corner for his eighth international goal in 18 appearances.

Despite their best efforts, world No.141 Yemen just could not find a way past the Lions defence helmed by Safuwan Baharudin and Irfan Fandi before the break.

Seven minutes after the restart, Hafiz latched on to a pass from skipper and birthday boy Hariss Harun, who turned 29, to curl in off the post his first international goal in six appearances, and the Lions held firm for the three points.

The Yemenis reduced the arrears in the 85th minute when Salem Al-Omzae beat the offside trap to slot past Izwan but the Lions hung on for the win.

With their victory, Singapore hauled themselves off the foot of the five-team Group D to third place with seven points from five games, two points behind leaders Uzbekistan who beat Palestine 2-0, and one behind Saudi Arabia.

The Lions will play their next qualifier away at Palestine on March 26 next year before facing the Saudis at home five days later.