Lions have it easy

Lions have it easy
Singapore vs Brunei: Shahril Ishak getting close attention from the Brunei players.

The national football team's final tune-up before their 2018 World Cup qualifiers saw them serve up a 5-1 friendly win over a weakened Brunei side.

While the Lions managed to build on last week's 2-1 victory away to Bangladesh, yesterday's hammering at the Jurong East Stadium was expected, because Brunei were only able to field players from their domestic league - S.League outfit Brunei DPMM did not release their players for a match not scheduled on a Fifa-sanctioned date.

Even so, Singapore coach Bernd Stange says the team are confident and ready for tough tests ahead, starting with their World Cup qualifiers away to Cambodia and Japan on Thursday and June 16, respectively.

"I'm very happy with the performance. We took a lot of confidence from the Bangladesh win, and now we have two from two," said the 67-year-old German yesterday.

"But let's not look too much at the result. The important thing is what happens on the pitch, the movement and understanding between players.

"That was what I was impressed with. We have a good, stable team, and that's good to see ahead of the qualifiers."

Singapore took control from the first whistle, and Khairul Amri put them in the lead after only seven minutes, heading in Nazrul Nazari's cross from the right flank.

Captain Hariss Harun doubled the lead in the 37th minute with a daisy cutter from the edge of the box.

Brunei then gave the hosts a minor scare, when Abdul Mui'z Sisa pounced on a moment of confusion between goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud and defender Madhu Mohana, calmly lobbing home in the 41st minute.

Just three minutes later, Singapore restored their two-goal advantage when Shaiful Esah latched onto Izzdin Shafiq's beautiful through pass to rifle home.

Amri then got his double in the 56th minute, before Fazrul Nawaz took advantage of the exhausted Bruneians to seal the win in the 65th minute.

Fazrul, who also scored against Bangladesh, was in high spirits at the post-match press conference.

"It feels really good to get another goal," said the 30-year-old Warriors FC forward.

"I just want to keep up with my good form. The key is to work hard and keep doing what I do.

"It's a good run for me, personally, so hopefully I can bring it into the World Cup qualifiers."

Brunei coach Mike Wong had a few words of caution for the Lions.

"If you look carefully, four of the five goals we conceded were all down to individual mistakes," said the 49-year-old Singaporean.

"So, in hindsight, it was a game that was won and lost by the tightest of margins.

"Against Cambodia and Japan, Singapore won't have it easy.

"I can guarantee you that."


This article was first published on June 7, 2015.
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