SINGAPORE: The Singapore national football team takes a slender one-goal lead going into their second leg against Guam in their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification match after their 2-1 win in the first match at the Singapore Sports Hub on Oct 12. The return leg will be played at Guam’s National Training Centre on Oct 17, and a win will see Singapore qualify for the second round of World Cup qualifiers.

The World Cup qualifiers also doubles up as the qualification for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup hosted by Saudi Arabia. If Singapore manages to overcome Guam, they will be placed in Group C in the next round alongside South Korea, China and Thailand. The Lion’s opening match will be against the Koreans away from home on Nov 16 before playing host to Thailand five days later. The top two teams in Group C will advance to the third round of the World Cup qualifiers and gain direct qualification for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup, while the bottom two teams will go to the third round of the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.

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Although the match ended 2-1 in favour of Singapore, some fans were not happy with how the team conceded the late goal and questioned some of coach Nishigaya’s tactical changes in the match. 

“Not sure why Nishigaya took Song Uiyoung off. He was the creative engine for Singapore. Taking him off changed things for Singapore, which lost its attacking direction. 2-1 is not a good result to take to Guam for the second leg. As we have said many many times, Nishigaya is the wrong person for a national team. When will FAS see this? Keep in mind, Guam has not played any competitive matches for a few years, and as a national team they had not even played friendlies for about a year,” commented a local football fan Andrew Loh, on the Football Association of Singapore’s Facebook page.

While other fans gave credit for the win, they felt that the Lions could have done better with their performance in the second half of the match, and they hope the team will prevail in the second leg against Guam.

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“This is the better game the Lions played for a very long time. Great job for the win. However, their mentality is still the same and their complacency is always there. Failing to take the chances that came, failure to kill off the game and not keeping a clean sheet, will definitely come back to haunt them in the return leg,” shared Andy Loh.

“Same old story, complacency sets in after a two goals lead in first half. Let loose their foot pedal after that. When will they ever learn their lesson?” queried Shaun Khoo.

Photo credit: Football Association of Singapore

Last week, the first match between Singapore and Guam saw coach Takayuki Nishigaya’s charges dominating play and creating ample goal-scoring opportunities in the first half. The 10,355 fans in attendance at the Singapore Sports Hub were treated to two goals before the breaks as Christopher Van Huizen and Jacob Mahler netted a goal each in the 35th and 40th minute.

But the Lions were not able to add to their advantage after the break despite having several goal attempts. In the 52nd minute, Shawal Anuar connected a header towards the goal from Song Uiyong’s corner, but his effort was denied by the Guam goalkeeper Dallas Jaye. Singapore was once again left frustrated in the 83rd minute when Ilhan Fandi attempted a header on goal, but it was comfortably saved by Jaye.

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Instead it was the visitor who grabbed a goal in the dying minutes of the game. Guam was awarded a freekick, and their captain Jason Cunliffe struck a sweet left-footer to Lions’ custodian Hassan Sunny’s top right-hand corner.

The Lions have travelled to Guam over the weekend to prepare for Tuesday’s second leg. Despite holding on to a one-goal lead from the first leg, Mahler felt the Lions have what it takes to seal qualification to the next round.

“It’s never nice to be in control of the game and then concede a goal in the last minute. But we’re confident that we can go to Guam and get the result done there,” said Mahler who was named as man of the match from the first match.