3 subs who turned game

3 subs who turned game
An overjoyed Gabriel Quak (left) celebrating his goal in the 81st minute, which doubled Singapore’s lead, with Hafiz Abu Sujad. The Lions conceded late on but hung on for an upset win.

Before the match, there had been doubts in the terraces about Bernd Stange's football philosophy, and whether the Lions had the fitness and ability to play the sort of high-pressing attacking football that the 65-year-old German extols.

But as the team tried their best - forwards Shahril Ishak and Khairul Amri in particular were chasing lost causes and closing down opponents in the attacking third - Stange also helped by making three crucial substitutions that played a big role in the 2-1 win over Syria.

"Sometimes coaches make good subs, sometimes he doesn't... all the players showed the right attitude to get this great result,"

Stange said modestly, although it was clear he got it spot on.

1 - Shaiful Esah for Shahfiq Ghani (55th minute)

It could be that he was feeling demoralised after seeing his free-kicks and passes failing to find the target, but Shahfiq Ghani was clearly having a forgettable evening on the left flank.

Stange saw it fit to bring on left back Shaiful Esah, thereby not losing a free-kick specialist, and pushed Hafiz Abu Sujad higher up the left flank.

Hafiz, who bounced back from a disappointing outing against Oman in the last qualifying match to play well in the 1-0 win over Laos, repeated his assist act by setting up Amri again just seven minutes after Stange made the reshuffle.

The licence to bomb down the flanks and sling in crosses clearly emboldened Hafiz, who must now surely be regarded as a vital source of ammunition.

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