Singapore 2-2 Yemen: Singapore begin World Cup qualifying campaign with vapid draw

Fandi to use friendly against Fiji to prepare U22 team for SEA games

Singapore began their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 2-2 draw against Yemen at the National Stadium.

The Lions who are beginning a new chapter under coach Tatsuma Yoshida started the first half brightly as they came out all guns blazing. Singapore's first real chance came as early as the sixth minute when Captain Hariss Harun fired a volley inside the penalty box - only to be denied by Yemen goalkeeper Salem Abdullah - Ikhsan Fandi failing to follow up on the rebound.

Singapore would soon carve out another chance in the 11th minute with Faris Ramli only for him to drag his shot wide - all of it possible because of Hariss' perfectly weighted pass to the forward. A disallowed goal in the 18th minute only seemed to signal that the Lions were close to scoring which was what happened in the 27th minute.

Kedah FA's Shakir Hamzah displayed great skill down the wing and sent in a pin-point cross which allowed Ikhsan to connect with a well-timed header, to put Singapore in the lead. Unfortunately for the Lions, the joy was short-lived as Yemen responded through a well-taken goal in the 34th minute due to slack defending.

However, the middle-eastern side wasn't done yet and added another goal before half time to take the lead - through striker Mohsen Mohammed Hasan after he managed to beat the offside trap.

Similarly, the second half started with a similar narrative to the first. Singapore again started brightly and Yasir Hanapi missed a golden chance to put his team back on level terms after his shot on the edge of the penalty box was dragged wide.

Indeed Tatsuma's charges would soon equalise when Ikhsan managed to dribble past a couple of Yemeni defenders and unleash a strike which the goalkeeper could only parry, into the path of Faris who without second asking - slammed the ball into the back of the net to make it 2-2.

Yemen would then have a golden opportunity to win the game in the 70th minute after they broke through Singapore's backline through the wing, but forward Mohsen could not finish off the move with a goal this time.

Singapore's final opportunity to score the third goal and seal all three points came in stoppage time. Shakir's long throw into the penalty box caused confusion amongst the Yemeni defenders, which allowed the ball to kindly fall to Faris - but he could only send the ball into the stands - as Singapore mustered a draw in their opening game - in front of 7018 fans.