Kenneth Tan rates the players in Singapore’s 2-0 win over Mongolia in the international friendly played at the Bishan Stadium on Friday night.
It was another good result for Fandi Ahmad’s men as they followed up the 2-0 win over Fiji last month with a similar result over Mongolia.
The Lions made seven games from their last outing, with Safuwan Baharudin deployed at centre-back and Iqbal Hussain starting in the no. 10 role, while Ikhsan Fandi was once again given the nod upfront.
So how did they fare?
Player Ratings (1-10)
Izwan Mahbud (6.5) – With Hassan Sunny rested for the game, he started in the best fashion to deny Mongolia a clear goalscoring opportunity after less than a minute on the clock. The Nongbua Pitchaya custodian then had a relatively comfortable night but still had to be alert to collect a cross late in the second half under pressure from a few blue shirts. He will be happy to go home with a clean sheet.
Zulqarnaen Suzliman (6.5) – Handed his second Lions start, the right-back held his fort well and managed to push forward to support the attack on a few occasions. His decision-making could be better on a few occasions, but that can only improve with more minutes at this level.
Irfan Fandi (7.5) – It was a rock-solid display for the strapping centre-back, who dominated the aerial challenges and got his foot stuck in to deny the Mongolian forwards from going through a few times. It is hard to see him not starting at the Suzuki Cup at this rate.
Safuwan Baharudin (7) – Deployed as a centre-back once again, Safuwan put up an assured display in his 80th international appearance with a number of key interceptions and positioned his body well to win the ball several times. Fandi’s decision to restore him to his natural position is looking vindicated.
Shakir Hamzah (7.5) – Restored to his accustomed left-back position, Shakir was a busy customer throughout – winning a few physical battles to keep the ball for his team and constantly overlapped to put in crosses into the area. It was through one of those forward forays that created the chaos that led to the Lions’ second goal. It is tough to see anyone dislodging him for this position.
Izzdin Shafiq (7) – His night started off on an ominous note with a poor back-pass that allowed Mongolia a clear chance, but he recovered well to put in an industrious display in the middle of the park. Took charge of the set-pieces and almost scored with a superb free-kick from range in the first half. Producing a few of his trademark crossfield passes, the challenge is on him to do it on a more consistent basis.
Hariss Harun (7) – As usual, the Lions skipper showed his combativeness in the central areas and dropped deep a few times to start the attack. The Johor Darul Ta’zim man did make a couple of uncharacteristic errors, but credit to him – he stuck to his task and was eventually at the right place at the right time to bundle home the opener after Safuwan’s header was spilled into his path.
Yasir Hanapi (6) – Deployed as a right winger, Yasir did not have a good first half but saw more involvement in the second half. He tried his best to supply the attackers, but his deliveries left much to be desired at times. One thing he cannot be faulted though, is his commitment to the cause as he tracked back well a few times to help Zulqarnaen out in defensive situations.
Iqbal Hussain (7) – Handed the coveted no. 10 role by Fandi, Iqbal did his Suzuki Cup chances no harm with a bright performance. Linked up well with the other attackers and went close to scoring on a few occasions – including a 35-yard free-kick that sailed inches wide of the post – before coming off on 72 minutes. Based on this display, he should be given another chance in this position.
Gabriel Quak (8) – A much-maligned figure, Quak put up what was one of his finest displays in a Singapore jersey to date. His smart movement and quick thinking was on full display, as he carved out several openings for his team and earned a few fouls to earn free-kicks in dangerous positions. Showing the desire to win the ball back on a number of occasions, the Navy FC winger capped off a superb showing with a cheeky instinctive finish to net his third international goal.
Ikhsan Fandi (6) – He huffed and puffed, but a third international goal eluded him in this game. Ikhsan put in a hardworking display upfront as usual, but was not as effective as the previous matches. His first touch let him down on a few occasions, most notably midway through the first half when he was put through on goal by Quak. The jury is still out on whether he should be leading the line when the Suzuki Cup comes by.
Faris Ramli (6.5) – Despite not being 100 percent fit, Faris came on for Iqbal for the final 18 minutes and did well to carve out a few good openings with his silky dribbling.
Khairul Nizam (N.A.)- Replaced Yasir for the final eight minutes and survived an injury scare after being at the receiving end of a poor challenge.
Khairul Amri (N.A. ) – Came on for Ikhsan on 84 minutes and tried his best to get involved in the thick of things to no avail.
Nazrul Nazari (N.A) – Replaced Zulqarnaen with five minutes to go and somehow ended the game at left-back.
Huzaifah Aziz (N.A.) – Came on for Hariss on the stroke of full time for his first international cap and managed to make one key clearance in the short time on the pitch.
Madhu Mohana (N.A.) – Replaced Shakir in injury time and did not get a touch of the ball.