Fazrul Nawaz fires Singapore to late victory over Myanmar in friendly
Fazrul Nawaz came off the bench to inspire Singapore to a 2-1 win against fellow Southeast Asian nation Myanmar in a friendly played in front of 5,280 fans at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Thursday night.
Singapore captain Shahril Ishak had put the Lions ahead in the first half before Myanmar substitute Suan Lam Mang levelled matters midway through the second half.
However, the home side ran out winners via Fazrul's late strike to gain some confidence ahead of their final joint World Cup and Asian Cup qualifier against Afghanistan in Tehran next Tuesday.
Singapore started off well with Hafiz Sujad forcing a superb point-blank save from Myanmar goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Phyo on five minutes after the latter had spilled Shakir Hamzah's left-wing cross.
However, roared on by the partisan away fans, Myanmar got their act together and began to unsettle the home side with some quick passing and movement.
Danger man Kyaw Ko Ko lashed wide from a tight angle, before forcing a sharp, diving save from Singapore custodian Hassan Sunny with his curling 25-yard free kick. The 23-year-old was then nearly sent through on goal by strike partner Aung Thu, but the through ball was cut out by Singapore centre-back Afiq Yunos in the nick of time.
With the home crowd starting to get restless, the Lions finally gave them something to cheer about by scoring against the run of play on 27 minutes. Forward Khairul Nizam won the aerial duel with Zin Phyo via a Hariss Harun free-kick, then forcing a save from the Myanmar goalie, before the loose ball fell for Shahril to do the rest from 10 yards out for his 14th goal in his 127th game for Singapore.
Despite the setback, Myanmar continued to pile on the pressure with Ko Ko, Kyi Lin and Aung Thu all going close. Singapore could have ended the first 45 minutes 2-0 up though with Sahil Suhaimi going on the clear via Afiq Yunos' long ball, but the former fired into the side netting.
Myanmar returned for the second half with the same energy levels as the first, with Hassan forced into a series of saves to hold the visitors at bay.
The Lions did have a rare breakaway on 64 minutes led by Shahril, but Nizam could only curl over from range.
They were duly made to pay for that miss a minute later as Myanmar levelled matters via a Singapore defensive lapse. Ye Ko Oo's long ball caught the Lions backline napping, before half-time substitute Suan Lam Mang produced a superb lob over the onrushing Hassan to send the travelling fans wild.
Singapore could have restored the lead immediately straight after, but Fazrul somehow scuffed wide from two yards out after being set up by Hafiz's low left-wing cross.
At the other end, Ko Ko also spurned a gilt-edged chance to put his side ahead by scooping over from close range after receiving Ko Oo's precise long ball.
It seemed like the match was heading for a draw before Fazrul's divine intervention four minutes from time. Yasir Hanapi's lofted ball into the box picked out the 30-year-old, who needed just a touch to guide an elegant volley beyond the outstretched fingertips of Zin Phyo.
The final whistle soon sounded, with the visitors wondering what it could have been if they had converted their dominance into goals.
Singapore: Hassan Sunny (GK), Juma'at Jantan (Al-Qaasimy Rahman 61'), Zulfahmi Arifin, Afiq Yunos, Shakir Hamzah (Gabriel Quak 68'), Hariss Harun, Safuwan Baharudin (Yasir Hanapi 64'), Sahil Suhaimi (Fazrul Nawaz 46'), Shahril Ishak (C) (Shahdan Sulaiman 66'), Hafiz Sujad, Khairul Nizam (Christopher van Huizen 75')
Myanmar: Kyaw Zin Phyo (GK), Myo Ko Tun, Aung Zaw, Zaw Min Tun, Nanda Kyaw (Hein Thiha Zaw 46'), Kyi Lin, Yan Aung Kyaw (C), Ye Ko Oo (Hlaing Bo Bo 76'), Mg Mg Lwin (Suan Lam Mang 46', Than Paing 83'), Kyaw Ko Ko, Aung Thu