Singapore continued their unbeaten streak under Fandi Ahmad with a 2-0 victory over Mongolia in their final international friendly at home on Friday night at the Bishan Stadium.
Fresh from last month’s 2-0 win over Fiji and a 1-1 draw against Mauritius, the Lions had to play a patient game against a fast-improving Mongolian outfit.
In the end, Hariss Harun and Gabriel Quak scored the goals in the second half to seal victory to make it two wins and one draw in the last three games.
The Lions almost got off to a nightmarish start within the first minute when a loose backpass from Izzdin Shafiq was intercepted by Maratkhan Janseric whose shot was well-saved by an alert Izwan Mahbud in goal.
Singapore finally found their footing and it was Iqbal Hussain who had a golden opportunity in the sixth minute. From a corner kick, the Hougang United forward picked up the rebound and rifled a shot that flew agonisingly wide.
Another good move in the 18th minute saw Shakir Hamzah put in a low cross that went all the way to the edge of the box where Zulqarnaen Suzliman thumped his shot into the floodlights.
It was Ikhsan Fandi’s turn a minute later when Gabriel Quak rampaged down the middle before releasing the 20-year-old but Mongolian goalkeeper Enkhtaivan Munkh-Erdene saved the day.
Iqbal was at it again on 30 minutes when Navy FC winger Gabriel Quak’s cheeky toe-poke found the striker but his shot was just off the mark.
The best chance of the half came ten minutes before the break through Garidmagnai Bayasgalan. The Mongolian centre-back’s flicked header back towards his goalkeeper put Ikhsan through but his lob sailed over the bar.
Quak had the final opportunity of the half when Izzdin found him in the box, only for his first-time effort to be collected by stopper Enkhtaivan.
The second half saw Mongolia sitting deep with all ten outfield players in their own half, forcing the Lions into long balls over the defence to no avail.
Quak fashioned an opportunity in the 57th minute with a clever low cross which found Ikhsan but an alert Mongolian defence snuffed out the danger.
61 minutes passed and Iqbal, who was having a decent game as Ikhsan’s striker partner snapped a free-kick that zipped on the wrong side of the post.
Singapore struggled to make inroads with only 20 minutes left as the visitors put up a stubborn defensive showing with two banks of four.
The deadlock duly came on 71 minutes when Izzdin’s free-kick to the far-post was headed back towards goal to force the goalkeeper to palm the ball to an unmarked Hariss to slot home.
PKNS FC forward Faris Ramli came on for Iqbal after the goal to add more firepower, with hopes of scoring a second goal to kill off the game.
Quak, who was having a good outing made it a memorable one with eight minutes left when a defensive error left him with time to clip a wonderful lob over the goalkeeper to make it 2-0.
Singapore will now prepare for their final friendly away to Cambodia in Phnom Penh before opening their 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign on November 9 against Indonesia.
Singapore: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Shakir Hamzah (Madhu Mohana 90+3), Irfan Fandi, Safuwan Baharudin, Zulqarnaen Suzliman (Nazrul Nazari 85’), Hariss Harun (C) (Huzaifah Aziz 90+1′), Izzdin Shafiq, Gabriel Quak, Yasir Hanapi (Khairul Nizam 83’), Iqbal Hussain (Faris Ramli 71’), Ikhsan Fandi (Khairul Amri 84’)
Mongolia: Enkhtaivan Munkh-Erdene (GK), Daginaa Turbat (C), Maratkhan Janseric (Artag Narmandakh 45’), Garidmagnai Bayasgalan, Norjmooglin Tsedenbal, Khurelbaataryn Tsend-Ayush (Batbildyn Tugsbileg 79’), Tsagaantsook Munkh-Erdene (Gal-Erdene Soyol-Erdene 76’), Battur Davaajav, Janchiv Sundorj (Batbold Baljinnyam 45’), Serodyanjiv Ganhuyag (Altansukh Temuujin 76’), Nyam-Osor Naranbold