Safuwan’s brace sets up win against Cambodia as Japan qualifier looms
SINGAPORE’S national football team got off to a flying start in their World Cup qualifying campaign after a 4-0 away victory over Cambodia yesterday.
And although they face mighty Japan next, the Lions will travel to the Land of the Rising Sun with confidence.
Watched by a crowd of 63,000 at Cambodia’s Olympic Stadium, Singapore took the lead in the ninth minute through striker Khairul Amri.
Safuwan Baharudin netted a brace before half-time, with an effort from outside the box followed by a header off Shaiful Esah’s free kick.
The Lions’ fine form continued after half-time when Fazrul Nawaz headed in from close range in the 55th minute to complete the rout.
Lions coach Bernd Stange said: “We dominated the game all over from the first to the last minute, and a result of 4-0 is completely deserved.
“We scored four goals and created another two or three clear chances. We were better organised today.”
Coming after back-to-back friendly wins against Brunei and Bangladesh earlier this month, this was the Lions’ third victory on the trot.
Stange pointed out that, with the upcoming away game against Japan next Tuesday, it was important for Singapore to take the points against Cambodia.
And two-goal hero Safuwan is now looking forward to crossing swords with the Samurai Blue.
The 23-year-old said: “It feels good to score two goals because I haven’t been scoring for some time, and I hope it is the start of many goals to come.
“The result gives us more confidence going to Japan. It is going to be difficult, but if we follow orders, we might get something from there.”
The game also marked Shahril Ishak’s 124th cap to become the most capped player for Singapore, after coming on for Amri in the 80th minute. But Stange advocated patience as the captain steps up his return from injuries.
Stange said: “Shahril is our captain but he has suffered many injuries since last December.
“He was not at his best but he is very important to our team. He has to come back to his best and it takes a while.”