Singapore shock Syria in Asian Cup qualifier
SINGAPORE - Singapore ended a run of two defeats in a row in their Asian Cup qualifying campaign when they edged out Syria 2-1 at the Jalan Besar Stadium tonight.
The Republic, who had lost 0-4 to Jordan and 0-2 to Oman in their previous Group A matches, weren't expected to get the better of their 143rd-ranked opponents who are 16 rungs above them in the FIFA standings.
National coach Bernd Stange had also indicated that he wanted to use this match and the next qualifier at home to Jordan to give the U-23 players in his squad more high-level competitive exposure in the run-up to this December's South-east Asian Games.
There was little to separate the two sides in a first-half filled with attempts at goal. Both Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny and his Syrian counterpart Mosab Balhous were kept busy and pulled off several good saves.
After a goal-less first half, it was Singapore who finally broke the deadlock in the 61st minute when striker Khairul Amri connected well with midfielder Hafiz Abu Sujad's cross to send the ball into the net.
Striker Gabriel Quak then made a dream entrance into the game as an 80th minute substitute for Amri when he scored within seconds of coming in.
Syria's Reja Rafe narrowed the deficit in the 88th minute with a strike from outside the box and the Syrians almost pulled off a 2-2 draw at the death when they forced Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny into making a great save.
Singapore's win means that they have climbed above Syria to third in their group. The Lions' next qualifier will be against Syria again. The reverse fixture will be held in Teheran on Nov 15.