Singapore’s Asian Cup hopes almost over after Jordan defeat

Singapore’s bid to qualify for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup was all but ended on Tuesday after a 3-1 defeat to Jordan in their penultimate Group A qualifier.

In a game marred by some questionable refereeing decisions, the visitors took the lead in 43rd minute after Tha’er Bawab lashed home a shot from the edge of the box, before Singapore were reduced to ten men on the stroke of halftime after Baihakki Khaizan was controversially shown a straight red.

A thumping header from Ahmad Hayel then made it 2-0 two minutes before the hour mark, but the Jordan captain was also sent off 11 minutes later for a second bookable offence.

Khairul Amri did manage to pull one back for the Lions in the 84th minute after they were awarded a dubious penalty, but any hopes they had of forcing a draw were ended in injury-time when substitute Yusuf Al-Rawashdeh netted a third for Hossam Hassan’s men.

Having handed their opponents a 4-0 defeat in their earlier meeting a year ago, Jordan were expected to claim the victory they needed to book at next year’s Asian Cup.

And it was them who started brighter on Tuesday, carving out the first chance after ten minutes when Raja’i Ayed’s visionary pass released Saleh Al-Jawhari, who skipped past Izwan Mahbud before cutting the ball abck to Tha’er, only for his shot to be blocked by Afiq Yunos.

Three minutes later, the duo linked up again to create another opening; Tha’er only managing to drill his shot wide after latching onto Al-Jawhari’s square pass.

The Gaz Metan Medias striker then had an even better chance three minutes after the half-hour mark after Mohammad Al-Dmeiri broke free on the overlap and crossed to him, but Shakir Hamzah did well to apply enough pressure and force him to scuff his shot wide.

Nonetheless, the Lions managed to get into the game as the half wore on and threatened in the 40th minute; Baihakki heading over from a tight angle after Safuwan Baharudin had nodded Zulfahmi Arifin’s corner into his path.

But three minutes later, Jordan found the breakthrough with a well-worked freekick routine after Hayel had been tripped on the edge of the box by Shakir; Tha’er running onto Mossab Al-Laham’s deft touch before lashing a powerful drive into the top corner.

Just before halftime, things got from bad to worse for Singapore when Baihakki was shown a straight red by referee Tan Hai after Al-Laham had gone down clutching his face, although it appeared to be a mere collision between both players.

Having now gained numerical superiority, Al-Nashama came out for the second half with clear intent to kill off the contest but it was Hayel’s turn to be wasteful, slicing his shot from four yards out with only Izwan to beat after Al-Laham had played a neat cross to him.

Against the run of play, the Lions nearly equalised in the 51st minute from another set-piece situation; Shakir nodding a freekick back into the danger area where Afiq proceeded to lash a shot just wide.

Izwan then had to be alert six minutes later to deny Jordan a second as he made a smart save down low to push wide a snapshot from Hayel, but it only delayed the inevitable as they doubled their lead moments later.

From the resultant corner, Al-Jawhari floated in a excellent delivery to Hayel, who was somehow left unmarked by the entire opposition defence and made no mistake in heading home from inside the six-yard box.

Izwan was beaten once again in the 67th minute after Tha’er was played through by Al-Rawashdeh’s incisive pass and skipped past the Lions keeper before firing towards the unguarded net, but Shakir raced back in time to clear off the line.

Two minutes later, Singapore were however handed a lifeline when Hayel was sent off; Tan deeming his trip on Safuwan in the middle of the park worthy of a second yellow.

Buoyed by the fact the numbers were now even, the hosts began to show increased initiative in the attacking third and Gabriel Quak did well to burst down the right and whip in a dangerous cross, only for Tareq Khattab to make a vital header before Amri could pounce.

Nonetheless, seven minutes from time, Singapore were handed the perfect opportunity to get back into the game after being awarded a controversial spot-kick after Baha’ Abdel-Rahman was penalised for handball, despite having almost no time to react to Safuwan’s ferocious drive straight at him.

Amri stepped up and coolly sent Mohammad Shatnawi the wrong way to reduce the deficit, and it looked like Bernd Stange’s charges were really starting to believe they could force the draw.

All that however came to an end in the first minute of injury-time as Jordan hit them on the counter; Al-Rawashdeh breaking free down the right and into the box before coolly clipping his shot over Izwan to seal the win.

The three points, which took Jordan’s tally up to nine with one game remaining, was enough to book their ticket to Australia next year as they can no longer be caught by Syria, while the Lions will need a minor miracle to qualify as the best third-placed team from the five qualifying groups.

Singapore: Izwan Mahbud, Faritz Hameed, Baihakki Khaizan, Afiq Yunos, Shakir Hamzah, Safuwan Baharudin, Hariss Harun, Zulfahmi Arifin, Khairul Amri, Hafiz Abu Sujad (Faris Ramli 68’), Shahril Ishak (Gabriel Quak 63’).

Jordan: Mohamad Shatnawi, Oday Zahran, Tareq Khattab, Anas Bani Yaseen, Mohammad Al-Dmeiri, Saleh Al-Jawhari (Yusuf Al-Rawashdeh 60’), Raja’i Ayed, Baha’ Abdel-Rahman, Mossab Al-Laham (Saeed Murjan 70’), Tha’er Bawab (Mohammad Mustafa 90’), Ahmad Hayel.

Attendance: 2,371


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