SINGAPORE - The Singapore national football team put up a brave fight to draw 1-1 against Oman in the AirMarine Cup final but had to suffer defeat after losing 5-4 in the penalty shoot-out.
The Omanis struck first in the 28th minute at Kuala Lumpur's Bukit Jalil Stadium through Aziz Al-Maqbali's header after the striker was given time and space to head home midfielder Raed Saleh's cross.
But in the last minute of stoppage time, midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin struck a glorious free kick from 25 metres out into the top corner of the net to equalise.
However, with no extra time played in this friendly tournament, it was straight to penalties where Safuwan Baharudin, Yasir Hanapi, Amirul Adli and Hariss Harun all netted but Faris Ramli, Singapore's fourth taker, crashed his effort against the bar.
And once again, it was Saleh who tormented the Lions when he calmly stroked home the winning kick.
Still, the Lions, under caretaker coach Nazri Nasir, bowed out with their heads held high as the team tried to take the game to the pacy and technically superior Omanis.
Zaiful Nizam, who deputised for the injured Izwan Mahbud in goal, pulled off a series of good saves to keep Erwin Koeman's team at bay.
In the 54th minute, the Balester Khalsa custodian dived to his right to parry a stinging shot from midfielder Ahmed Al-Mahaijri, who had cut in from the left flank after a mazy dribble.
A minute later, Zaiful was alert again to deny Maqbali's header off a corner.
Singapore also had chances to equalise but Nazri's men were unable to convert. In the 48th minute, winger Gabriel Quak delivered a cross from the left but Faris steered his header straight at goalkeeper Faiz Al-Rushiadi.
Ten minutes later, winger Nazrul Nazari sprinted clear of the defence to meet a long pass but he was dispossessed before he could pull the trigger.
The Lions reached the final after beating hosts Malaysia 1-0 on Wednesday while Oman thrashed Afghanistan 5-0.
In yesterday's early game, Malaysia defeated Afghanistan 2-1 to finish third in the quadrangular tournament.