Lions upset Syria 2-1

Lions upset Syria 2-1
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.

Singapore 2 Syria 1

The room fell silent as Singapore national football coach Bernd Stange began his press conference with the words: "This was not a good result".

But his next line - "it was a very good one" - summed up last night's 2-1 win over Syria in a 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualifier at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

There was no hiding the German's delight after he tasted victory in a competitive fixture for the first time in his reign as Lion tamer.

"The team played with enthusiasm and gave everything for their country," he beamed.

Stange's side had gone into the match as massive underdogs following defeats by Jordan (0-4) and Oman (0-2). Last Thursday, they eked out an unconvincing 1-0 win over minnows Laos.

But second-half goals by Khairul Amri and substitute Gabriel Quak helped secure their first points of the campaign and lifted them off the bottom of Group A.

Raja Rafe struck late on for the visitors but it was not enough to deny the Lions their first win over Middle Eastern opposition since January 2009, when they defeated Jordan by the same 2-1 scoreline.

But even with his side's campaign finally up and running, Stange stressed that his focus is still firmly on December's SEA Games.

"We have to be realistic," he said. "We definitely don't have the strength to qualify for the Asian Cup Finals."

True to his word, the 65-year-old named in last night's starting XI seven players who will be eligible for the Under-23 competition in Myanmar.

And to a man, they stood tall.

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