Football: Positives in Singapore's 0-0 draw with Jordan but national coach Tatsuma Yoshida wary of Saudi threat

Singapore defender Irfan Fandi shadowing Jordan attacker Abdullah Al-Attar in Saturday's international friendly in Amman that ended 0-0. Saudi Arabia will surely provide much stiffer opposition in their World Cup qualifier on Thursday.
Singapore defender Irfan Fandi shadowing Jordan attacker Abdullah Al-Attar in Saturday's international friendly in Amman that ended 0-0. Saudi Arabia will surely provide much stiffer opposition in their World Cup qualifier on Thursday.PHOTO: JORDAN FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION

While Yoshida sees positives in 0-0 draw in Jordan, he says Lions need better possession

He had just witnessed his team claiming a creditable draw against world No. 98 Jordan on Saturday night but Singapore coach Tatsuma Yoshida was far from satisfied despite a rare clean sheet.

The match against the Jordanians at the Amman International Stadium was not only an international friendly but also served as a final warm-up for the Lions, who face regional giants Saudi Arabia in Buraidah on Thursday night in a World Cup cum Asian Cup qualifier.

While there were positives to take from the stalemate against Jordan, Yoshida, 45, warned he was expecting a much toughest test from the 70th-ranked Saudis, 87 places higher than the Republic.

He said: "We tried some things to prepare for Saudi Arabia and this was a difficult game but very good sparring match.

"Jordan are physically strong and their technique is also good. Some of our players were confused in the first half, but there was good improvement in the second half.

"If we always clear the ball when we win it, we will die because Saudi Arabia are among the best in Asia and we won't have much of the ball. So, we must improve especially in the transition from defence to attack."

Since his appointment in May, Yoshida's Lions have two wins, two draws and one loss. Their previous two matches have seen them claiming four points (2-2 with Yemen and a 2-1 win over Palestine) to lead Group D of the second-round qualifiers.

KEEP CONTROL

If we always clear the ball when we win it, we will die because Saudi Arabia are among the best in Asia and we won't have much of the ball.

TATSUMA YOSHIDA, Singapore football coach, on improving their transition from defence to attack.

Against Jordan - this was the first time Singapore, under Yoshida, were playing a team ranked in the top 100 - the Japanese kept to his philosophy of blooding young and inexperienced players.

He gave central midfielder Hami Syahin, 20, and forward Fareez Farhan, 25, their first international starts in place of Shahdan Sulaiman and Ikhsan Fandi.

Kicking off with a 4-3-3 formation, Singapore persisted with their industrious pressing led by Fareez up front, leading to stray passes and turnovers from the hosts earlier on.

They came closest to scoring when Faris Ramli pickpocketed his opponent in the Singapore half to launch a counter-attack in the 23rd minute through Hariss Harun, Fareez and Hami, whose final pass found Gabriel Quak in an offside position.

Yoshida said: "Hami played very well. He asked for the ball, he took initiative on the pitch, and he pressed very hard.

"I am not worried about using Fareez too because he showed very good performance in training and high quality playing with Geylang. Today was a good experience for him as he played against strong centre-backs of a higher level than in the local league."

Even though Jordan grew into the game, their technical superiority was cancelled out by the Lions' discipline in keeping their shape, while the visitors also had centre-backs Safuwan Baharudin and Irfan Fandi to thank for vital blocks against Baha Seif.

In the second half, Yoshida also handed first caps to Darren Teh, 23, and midfielder Hazzuwan Halim, 25, as his side held firm for some valuable Fifa ranking points.

The draw also ended a five-match losing streak that stretched back to 2010 against Jordan, who had beaten Saudi Arabia 3-0 in the West Asian Football Federation Championship in August.

Singapore captain Hariss told The Straits Times: "It was a hard-fought draw and we did well to hold our shape. But we need to be better with the ball. We did not really create many chances and we have to work on that.

"We must believe we can match these teams, and know we need to keep improving."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2019, with the headline 'Good warm-up but Saudis are tougher'. Print Edition | Subscribe