SINGAPORE: A morale-boosting 3-1 win for the Singapore national football team against Maldives on Saturday evening at the Jalan Besar Stadium ahead of their AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup campaign next week was marred by injury concerns to their main striker Ikhsan Fandi who was stretchered off the field in the closing stages of the first half.
The Lions opened their account through Ilhan Fandi in the fourth minute when he brilliantly sneaked in between the Maldives defence to connect a thumping header from a Christopher van Huizen cross down the left flank.
“I am absolutely delighted for my first goal. The AFF, it will be a good morale booster for the team, so we can’t wait to get started. We need your support, thank you to the fans who came down today. I hope the game against Myanmar we can get bigger crowd on both sides. We can’t wait so hopefully you enjoy the AFF,” said Ilhan, who recently signed for Belgian second division side KMSK Deinze, in the post-match interview.
Although the hosts dominated the match, the visitors managed to pull a goal back in the 17th minute through Ibrahim Mahudee, who managed to break away from his marker van Huizen and rose highest to head past Singapore’s goalkeeper Zaiful Nizam.
With star striker Ikhsan Fandi unable to continue the match due to a knee injury, Singapore head coach Takayuki Nishigaya brought on Hougang United forward Shawal Anuar who added a much-needed spark and energy to the team frontline.
Shawal wasted no time in restoring Singapore their lead after the break. Despite being closely watched by the Maldives defenders, Shawal did well to connect with half-time substitute Song Uiyong cross from the left and headed towards the bottom left corner of the post for his first goal of the match.
The Lions took a two-goal lead in the 87th minute, once again through Shawal who scored his fourth international goal. Looking to bury the game beyond the visitors, the Lions pushed on hard and found themselves down the right side with Ryhan Stewart. The Chiangmai FC player delivered a tantalising cross for Shawal to slam home from close range.
Singapore will start their AFF Mitsubishi Cup Group B campaign against Myanmar at the Jalan Besar Stadium on 24 Dec before hosting Vietnam at the same venue on 30 Dec. They will then face Laos on 27 Dec and Malaysia on 3 Jan in an away match. Tickets to the Vietnam match are sold out, but there are still limited tickets still available for the Myanmar match for sale.
Post Match interview – https://www.facebook.com/singaporefootball/videos/477549337841168/