A match between Singapore and Malaysia has always been passionate but this was a whole different match altogether. A flurry of eight goals with five coming in the first-half brought the 6,000 capacity crowd to a frenzy of cheers.
The match got off to a roaring start with Malaysia’s No.10, Safee Sali giving his side the lead within the opening minute of the game. The Lions refused to let their heads drop after the bad start and they came roaring back through Aleksandar Duric seven minutes later.
The Lions pushed on further to secure a comfortable lead in the first half and Qiu Li got the crowd standing in the 21st minute when he wonderfully floated a freekick that beat Malaysia’s custodian, Mohd. Sharbinee Allawee Bin Ramli.
Having a one-goal lead in the first-half was clearly not the Lions’ idea as they tore the Malaysian defence apart, scoring two goals in quick succession. Mustafic Fahrudin latched onto a cushioned header from Hariss Harun before letting loose a screamer of a shot in the 44th minute and Shi Jiayi ended the first-half for Singapore with the fourth goal in the 45th minute.
Coming back on for the second-half, the visitors strived to get back into the game but were reduced to ten-men in the 49th minute after their captain, Safiq bin Rahim was sent off for a hard challenge on Hariss Harun.
Looking to extend their three-goal lead, the Lions attacked in numbers, taking advantage of the extra man on the field. However, they too lost a player after referee Nawaf Shukralla dismissed Ismail Yunos for a second bookable offence.
With both teams having lost a player to red cards, the visitors got themselves into the game by scoring two goals within a minute. The goals were scored by Abdul Hadi bin Yahaya and Safee Sali in the 68th and 69th minute respectively.
With the scoreboard reading, Singapore 4-3 Malaysia and the home fans cheering the lions on to go for the kill, they got what they wanted when the impressive Duric finished off the night with his second goal of the match after a brilliant move between him and Qiu Li.
The match came to an end with Singapore walking away with a crucial two-goal lead over Malaysia in the 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP BRAZIL ™ ASIAN QUALIFIERS ROUND TWO, (1st Leg). The return leg will be played on 28 July at the Bukit Jalil Stadium.
Speaking at the post-match press conference, Malaysia Coach K.Rajagobal praised his side for their effort in the second-half but he was also hard on them for their first half performance. “We got off to the best start, the best ever start. And then the whole defence collapsed when Singapore was putting pressure on the flanks. The second half we came back into the match, I have to pay credit to the players.”
He went on to add, “It would have been 4-4 or 5-5 but they were too eager especially my defence to push up and then left in a lot of space and time for Singapore to harass us. Nevertheless, we have to be optimistic, be positive and it was important for us to get three goals in the first leg.”
Singapore Coach Raddy, “It was a really exciting match to watch for the supporters from both sides. What happened was that we really wanted to win the game. The first-half in some ways, we used our heads more than our emotions. In the 2nd half, one moment of concentration cost us. All players gave their 100 percent and you can see that they are all very tired when the match ended.”
He also singled out a few players for praise, “I was very pleased with Qiu Li as I did not expect him to last so long, he did really well. Izwan also played well as he made critical saves in the first-half and I think he’s good for a boy who played for the first time in the National team. “
World Cup Qualifier (Asia Zone) Round 2, first leg
Singapore 5-3 Malaysia