WCQ/ACQ PREVIEW: Singapore vs Syria

2018 World Cup/2019 Asian Cup Qualifiers

National Stadium, Tuesday 17 November 2015, 8pm

Reflections on the Japan game

Predictably, Singapore were unable to repeat the feat of holding Japan to a draw, after Mu Kanazaki, Keisuke Honda and Maya Yoshida put 3 past Izwan, in what was a clinical display by the Samurai Blue.

Japan proved too strong for the Lions (cr: voxsports)
Japan proved too strong for the Lions (cr: voxsports)

The Japanese were faster, stronger and sharper in all departments and successfully exacted their revenge, to go top of Group E.

Izwan Mahbud, though, did not disappoint, making 15 saves this time round. Baihakki Khaizan, who was a fresh faced 20 year old the last time the two countries met, also had a fair showing, while the same can’t exactly be said for the rest of the team.

The scoreline may have been 0-3, but Izwan still managed a good performance. (cr: FAS)
The scoreline may have been 0-3, but Izwan still managed a good performance. (cr: FAS)

Overall, it was a result that felt right. Even though the Lions were lacking, any score bigger than 3-0 would have been harsh, as the Lions DID try to string passes and not always look to go long. They also noticeably had more of the ball, as compared to the time in Saitama.

There were two or three chances on goal too, with Hafiz Sujad agonizingly close to pulling one goal back.

You can watch the full game highlights here. 

Now then, on to the next one.

Team News vs Syria

Coach Bernd Stange likes to stick to his formula, barring suspension and injuries, so we can expect a similar line-up on Tuesday.

Safuwan Baharudin came off with a slight knock near the end of the Japan game, but should be okay to start against Syria.

Shakir Hamzah was a bit of a surprise inclusion, at the expense of Shaiful Esah at left back. However, the latter could reclaim his position, after a dodgy performance by the former.

Other than that, Izwan Mahbud, Nazrul Nazari, Madhu Mohana and Baihakki Khaizan are set to retain their places.

Hafiz (in red) had the best chance of the game but failed to properly connect with Faris' cross. (cr: voxsports)
Hafiz (in red) had the best chance of the game but failed to properly connect with Faris’ cross. (cr: voxsports)

Safuwan is a definite starter if fit, along with Hariss Harun. Izzdin Shafiq has been a bit of a “weak-link” in midfield. However, his direct replacement Zulfahmi Arifin himself, did not do well when given the chance against Afghanistan. With a lack of other midfield options, Izzdin looks set to extend his stay in the first eleven.

Hafiz Sujad and Faris Ramli should start out wide.

Bernd Stange was not impressed with Fazrul Nawaz in the first half vs Japan and subbed him off at half time. It is not known if Stange will start Sahil Suhaimi ahead of Fazrul in attack.

Past Meetings

Singapore are actually on equal terms with Syria based on past meetings. Out of 4 encounters, each side has won 2, with The Eagles winning the last two, 4-0 (Nov 2013) and 1-0 (Sep 2015).

The Lions won the first two encounters, 4-1 in July 1978 and 2-1 in Oct 2013.

Opposition Watch: Syria’s results so far

Afghanistan 0 Syria 6

Syria 1 Singapore 0

Cambodia 0 Syria 6

Syria 0 Japan 3

Syria 5 Afghanistan 2

The Syrians are currently 2nd in Group E, with 12 points, coming from 4 wins and 1 loss. They have amassed the highest number of goals in the group with 18 goals, but have conceded the same amount as Singapore, at 5 goals.

Syria leads Singapore by 2 points in the table, with one game in hand.

Opposition Watch: Key Players

Mahmoud Almawas (Midfielder)

The 22 year-old Al-Riffa midfielder has scored three goals in qualification for the Eagles. He usually starts play from the right flank, then cuts inside. Will definitely keep Singapore’s left flank busy with his pace.

Abdulrazak Al Husen (Midfielder)

Abdulrazak is the captain and playmaker of the team. Although officially listed as a midfielder, he operates just below the main striker as a Classic 10, being able to both create and score goals. At 29, he is the most experienced outfield player, with 50 appearances for country.

Osama Omari (Midfielder)

Osama is currently Syria’s top scorer of the campaign, with 4 goals. He scored an absolute screamer of a free kick against Afghanistan in their previous match, and has shown on numerous occasions that he can strike the ball from distance with devastating accuracy.

Izwan should be on his toes for Osama Omari's ferocious long shots (cr: uk.sports.yahoo)
Izwan should be on his toes for Osama Omari’s ferocious long shots (cr: uk.sports.yahoo)

Strikers Sanharib Malki and Omar Khribin are also goal threats, while Zahir Almedani will patrol in midfield to ward off the Lions.

Thoughts and Predictions

Syria are ranked 132nd in the world by FIFA. Based on current form and recent results, Syria should have the edge against Singapore.

This is a team that is technically sound, and are more than capable of producing amazing individual feats as much as they are able finish off team moves.

18 goals coming from 9 different scorers show that scoring goals isn’t a problem for them, with goals also being scored from a variety of methods.

Mahmoud Al Mawas (center) is always the most lively player on the pitch for Syria (cr: The Star)
Mahmoud Al Mawas (center) is always the most lively player on the pitch for Syria (cr: The Star)

However, in their last meeting, Syria found it difficult to break down Singapore’s defence, until Oday Al-Jafal headed in, on the 59th minute.

Singapore had more than a few chances to score too through Khairul Amri, but ultimately failed to do so. In my opinion, that 1-0 loss away to Syria was the toughest result to accept.

The Lions are a very defensive team and it is difficult to highlight who would pose a threat against the Eagles, other than the absent Amri.

I would put Shaiful Esah back into the mix for his set pieces as the delivery was not good enough against Japan. In any case, look towards the usual suspect, Safuwan Baharudin to make something happen.

Due to obvious reasons, the Syrian team aren’t able to play any of their games in their own country. The unfamiliarity of playing in front of big crowds could affect them but that is if the Singaporean public turns up in numbers.

This is Singapore’s last home game in this round of qualification. A draw wouldn’t mean much, so it would be nice to see the Lions go for the kill and give the fans the attacking football they deserve.

Win this, and we stand a good chance of finishing the campaign at 2nd place.

(cr: voxsports)
(cr: voxsports)

Support your National Team this November! To purchase tickets to the home game against Syria, visit sportshub.com.sg

Aziz Azhar
A person who likes to take random walks to nowhere. Also thinks he knows so much about football.

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