FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier: Singapore 2-1 Cambodia

As I entered the National Stadium last night at 7.30pm, for the Singapore Lions’ 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Cambodia, I noticed that while the stadium was not completely full, there were still plenty of passionate local fans around.

At the National Stadium last night.

At the National Stadium last night.

Heartening that many Singaporeans support the national football team

And many of them wore red jerseys, to support the Singapore national football team. As well, one group had even prepared a huge Singapore Flag which was proudly being displayed across an entire block of seats at the stadium.

It was really heartening to know that despite the criticism that Singaporeans often prefer English Premier League football to the local game, there are still many fans who support the local team with pride.

Waiting for the match to begin.

Waiting for the match to begin.

More Singaporeans slowly streamed in, as the match time of 8.00pm approached – and 9,400 fans had turned up last night, to catch our Lions in action.

Cheering the Lions as they took to the pitch

When the Singapore Lions took to the pitch for a warm-up session before the match, I could hear cheers erupting from the crowd. And clappers and scarves were coming out in full force from the stands. Yes, the passion and support for our local football team was well and truly there last night.

There was a large Singapore flag in the stands.

There was a large Singapore flag in the stands.

National anthems and kick-off time

It was soon time for the match to begin. The Cambodian and the Singapore national anthem were played. Everyone rose to their feet and some fans passionately put their right hand on their heart during the rendition of Majulah Singapura.

Then the referee blew the whistle to signify that the game had begun.

The action on the pitch.

The action on the pitch.

However in terms of the game itself, there had been not many chances created, let alone the number of shots on target – for both sides.

Singapore’s first goal in the 16th minute

The first goal of the match had been scored by Singapore’s Faris Ramli in the 16th minute, and that was greeted by cheers from the crowd, who were pleased to see the home team ahead. The cheers grew louder for a while, at that stage and the atmosphere was buzzing.

There were plenty of passionate Singaporeans in support of their country's football team.

There were plenty of passionate Singaporeans in support of their country’s football team.

As the match wore on, the fans, at times, attempted to try and lift the Lions, to get them to play more passionate attacking football – but to no avail. A group of fans on the far side of the stadium were even standing up to cheer and some around me were beating their clappers furiously, in an attempt to create a din in the stands and propel the Lions into action.

There were a few more chances, but no more goals in the first half though. And Singapore’s Khairul Amri also missed a penalty, to everyone’s utter dismay.

A fan attempts to take a picture of his idols on the pitch.

A fan attempts to take a picture of his idols on the pitch.

Singapore went to sleep 

Moments after the game had re-started in the second half, Singapore scored again to make it 2-0 – and then apparently went to sleep after that. They let Cambodia back into the game – in fact, for the first time during this match, I started to feel jittery when the Cambodians scored in the 65th minute – to halve their deficit.

But despite that brief scary minute, the Cambodians failed to threaten for the rest of the game – and Singapore ran out 2-1 winners when the full-time whistle had sounded, by the end of the 90 minutes of football.

Not much of a threat from the Lions

Fans wave bye to each other as they exit the stadium after the game.

Fans wave bye to each other as they exit the stadium after the game.

As I trudged out of the stadium after the match, I must admit that I wasn’t so enthusiastic by how our national team had performed. For example, I felt that we had hardly created much of a threat at all, during the entire 90 minutes of action. And although we had a total of 16 goal attempts, only two of those had successfully found the back of the net.

And despite the victory last night, what would be our chances next month, against Asian powerhouses Japan, as well as Syria?

A father and his young son at the game.

A father and his young son at the game.

Singapore football definitely has a long way to go to reach the next level.

Thank you Eleven Sports Network for giving us the chance to see the Lions in action.

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