Kenneth Tan rates the players in Singapore’s 2-0 win over Fiji in the international friendly played at the Bishan Stadium on Tuesday night.
Fandi Ahmad got his first win as Lion tamer as early goals from Hariss Harun and Ikhsan Fandi did the trick.
Fandi made seven changes to his starting XI, with young Jacob Mahler shining in the heart of midfield while Baihakki Khaizan rolled back the years with a commanding performance at the back.
Player Ratings (1-10)
Hassan Sunny (7) – Restored to the starting eleven, the Army United custodian proved his worth early on with a superb reflex save to deny the Fijians from going ahead. He was then equal to a long-range free-kick late in the first half before coming off on the hour mark for Zaiful Nizam.
Faritz Hameed (6) – One of the seven changes made by Fandi, the right-back was given a tough test by Fiji captain Roy Krishna for much of the first half before the latter moved to central forward. While it was a generally hardworking performance from the Home United man, he was not effective enough attackingly with a number of his deliveries going wayward.
Irfan Fandi (6.5) – Retained at centre-back, the strapping youngster made use of his physique well to block out the Fijian attackers on most occasions. The negative side to his game is that most of his attempted forward passes did not find the intended target.
Baihakki Khaizan (8) – Brought into the starting lineup for the injured Safuwan Baharudin, the 34-year-old showed that he is still one of the best defenders that Singapore has at their disposal right now. The Udon Thani man not only dominated aerially, but was also on-point with interceptions on the ground. It was his assured presence at the back that kept out Fiji’s most dangerous attacker Krishna.
Zulfahmi Arifin (6.5) – Deployed at an unfamiliar left-back position, the 27-year-old understandably struggled with some of the demands that came with the role. Credit to the Chonburi FC player, he gradually settled in and it was his trademark inswinging corner that led to the Lions’ opener.
Jacob Mahler (7.5) – Given a surprise debut, the 18-year-old displayed no nerves and put his body on the line for the full 90 minutes. He was at the receiving end of a punch and an elbow by the Fijians, but shouldered on and provided a good screen in front of the Lions back four. The future looks really bright for the youngster.
Hariss Harun (8.5) – After a rather unconvincing performance against Mauritius, the Johor Darul Ta’zim man stood up to be counted as he produced a captain’s performance in the middle of the park. He kept the ball well and provided a number of good diagonal passes to set up attacks. Most significantly, it was his well-directed header off Zulfahmi’s corner that set the Lions on the way to their first win under Fandi.
Gabriel Quak (7.5) – Given his first international start in a while, the fleet-footed winger put up an all-action display in the first 45 minutes and it was quite a surprise to see him replaced at the break. The Navy FC player was incisive in his play and linked up well with his fellow attackers. It was his inch-perfect ball over the top that set up Ikhsan for the Lions’ second goal.
Shahdan Sulaiman (5.5) – Replacing Yasir as the no. 10, the Melaka United playmaker did play a couple of nice through passes but was uncharacteristically off-tempo for most of the time. It was no surprise to see him replaced at the break and he would need to produce better displays to convince Fandi of a starting berth.
Zulfadhmi Suzliman (5.5) – After a promising debut against Mauritius, Zulfadhmi did not have the best of outings this time round. The Tampines Rovers winger was not involved in the game much and was eventually replaced on the hour mark.
Ikhsan Fandi (7.5) – Another start, another goal – the 19-year-old is proving that he has what it takes to be the Lions’ main forward at the AFF Suzuki Cup. Latching on to Quak’s ball over the top, he shrugged the attentions of two defenders before slotting beyond Miswani Nairube for the Lions’ second and final goal. He continued to work hard on the left wing in the second half before coming off on 80 minutes.
Yasir Hanapi (7) – Replacing Quak at the break, Yasir put up an energetic display on the right wing and put in a number of teasing crosses. It was just a pity that no one applied the finishing touch on those.
Shahril Ishak (6.5) – Coming on for Shahdan, the veteran forward put up a good shift in the second 45 minutes as he took the armband after Hariss came off on 63 minutes. Was unlucky to see his snapshot on 73 minutes palmed away.
Zaiful Nizam (6) – Coming on for Hassan for his second cap, Zaiful was not troubled much until the dying moments when he held a long-range shot from Dave Radrigal.
Khairul Amri (6.5) – Replacing Zulfadhmi on 63 minutes, Amri was a bright spark and created a number of good moments in the attacking third. Should have netted late on though with his shot from outside the area somehow going wide.
Ho Wai Loon (7) – Replacing Hariss on 63 minutes, the debutant shone in the Lions midfield – putting himself in the thick of things with a number of robust challengers and played a few good forward passes.
Shakir Hamzah (N.A.) – Coming on for Ikhsan, Shakir played as an unorthodox left winger and tracked back well to help the defence keep a clean sheet.