Football: Lions' Asian Cup qualifying campaign ends on whimper after 0-3 loss to Bahrain

Singapore's Safuwan Baharudin (left) tussling for the ball with Bahrain's Abubaker Aadem during their Asian Cup qualifier at the National Stadium on Nov 14, 2017.
Singapore's Safuwan Baharudin (left) tussling for the ball with Bahrain's Abubaker Aadem during their Asian Cup qualifier at the National Stadium on Nov 14, 2017. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Singapore's Asian Cup qualifying campaign is over after they lost 0-3 to Bahrain in front of 2,628 fans at the National Stadium on Tuesday (Nov 14).

The Lions are rooted to the bottom of Group E with two points from five games, while Bahrain stay top with 10 points and are through to the 2019 Asian Cup Finals in the United Arab Emirates.

In the other Group E match earlier in the day, Turkmenistan beat and eliminated Chinese Taipei 2-1 in Ashgabat to progress along with Bahrain on the same number of points.

After holding Bahrain in a goalless first half, V. Sundram Moorthy's men could not deal with Sayed Dhiya's right-wing cross in the 65th minute, with Mahdi Abduljabbar scrambling the ball in after his second attempt.

In the 81st minute, the visitors sliced apart the tired home defence and Jamal Rashid blasted in from near the penalty spot, before Mahdi got his second from a similar position three minutes later.

Singapore did have their chances and could have taken a surprise first-minute lead when Zulfahmi Arifin's free kick found its way to Shawal Anuar, who sliced his shot across the Bahrain goal from the back post.

Irfan Fandi then fired another free kick straight into the arms of Bahrain goalkeeper Sayed Hashem from 30m five minutes later.

But that was as good as it got for the hosts, who struggled to get men forward to support defender-turned-attacker Safuwan Baharudin.

The defeat sees Singapore extend their winless run to 13 'A' international matches, with their last win coming in the form of a 1-0 home victory in a friendly against Cambodia on Nov 13 last year.

Lions fan Steven Ong, 36, said: "It's disappointing when we cannot qualify for the Asian Cup with a favourable qualifying draw, and worse when we finish bottom of this group.

"I don't know if it's a problem with Sundram's tactics or if the players are just not delivering as there are enough good players in the team who should be in their prime.

"We just hope they can regroup and get back to winning ways as soon as possible."