Dubai, Friday, February 24, 2012 — Singapore drew 2-2 draw with Azerbaijan in their first international ‘A’ friendly for the year.
Goals by Shahril Ishak and Shahdan Sulaiman salvaged a draw for Singapore after they trailed 0-2.
Shahdan Sulaiman got the Lions’ first chance at goal in the ninth minute. Hassan Sunny’s long punt up the field found Fazrul Nawaz down the right and the Singapore Armed Forces FC winger clipped a delightful cross into the path of Shahdan who blazed it wide.
The Lions committed a defensive error in the 15th minute to allow Azerbaijan striker Rauf Aliyev to give his country a 1-0 lead which they took into the half-time break.
Irwan Shah, Shi Jiayi and Qiu Li came on in place of Agu Casmir, Shaiful Esah and Fazrul Nawaz as Singapore coach Raddy Avramovic remapped his tactics in search of an equalizer.
However, the Azerbaijanis went further ahead when their right-back Mahir Shukorov found the back of the net in the 62nd minute for a 2-0 lead.
Avramovic then sent on Firdaus Idros six minutes later in place of Isa Halim to give Singapore more penetration in attack.
Singapore finally got on the scoresheet in the 71st minute when Shahril Ishak scored from the penalty box after Qiu Li was taken down in the box.
Shahdan Sulaiman then found the equaliser for Singapore in the dying moments of the match after he was put through on goal by Mustafic Fahrudin.
Said Shahdan after the match: “I never expected Farra (Mustafic Fahrudin) to lay the ball off to me. My immediate thought was the many tactical drills that Coach Raddy (Avramovic) put us through in training and I executed the move like how we have repeated countless times during the training sessions. I am glad our tactics paid off and now we can look forward to 2012 having started the year with such a positive result against a European team.”
Another man who was under the spotlight was defender Baihakki Khaizan who played his first match for the national team after a one-year absence.
“I am just pleased to back in the fray. To be representing your country is always a huge honour and I worked really hard to get back into the national team these past months. To be able to hold a European team like Azerbaijan, who count England as one of their opponents in recent years, to a draw is a wonderful result. We should have more matches against tough opponents like this to help us improve and get better as a team.
“As for myself, it was a performance that I am happy with but we cannot take things for granted. We should look at every match as an opportunity to get a good result and I am looking forward to continuing the rest of 2012 in good form and keep myself in the national team reckoning.”
Singapore Starting Lineup
Hassan Sunny (GK), Baihakki Khaizan, Shaiful Esah (Irwan Shah 45’), Daniel Bennett, Ruzaini Zainal (Delwinder Singh 80’), Isa Halim (Firdaus Idros 68’), Shahdan Sulaiman, Fazrul Nawaz (Shi Jiayi 45’), Mustafic Fahrudin, Shahril Ishak (C) (Patrick Paranjody 90’), Agu Casmir (Qiu Li 45’)
The starting 11 for Singapore against Azerbaijan. Back (left to right): Agu Casmir, Daniel Bennett, Baihakki Khaizan, Hassan Sunny, Mustafic Fahrudin, Shaiful Esah. Front (left to right): Shahril Ishak, Shahdan Sulaiman, Isa Halim, Fazrul Nawaz, Ruzaini Zainal. (Photo courtesy of FAS)