TODAY ( 6 June 2008 ) reported that Singapore’s faint hopes of reaching the last stage of World Cup qualification have been practically wiped out as a result of Saudi Arabia and Lebanon’s decision to play the return leg of their encounter in Riyadh, instead of Beirut.
Saudi Arabia had beaten Lebanon 4-1 in Riyadh last week. The Saudis are currently second in the four-team group with nine points and a 6-4 goal record. Singapore is third with three points and a 5-9 record.
To be honest, I thought the opening paragraph of Shamir’s report teetered on the edge of hysteria and panic.
Actually, it’s not really the end of the World ( Cup ) for the Lions just because the Saudis are going to enjoy home advantage against Lebannon for their “away leg” return encounter. Actually, I think the Saudis will win that game regardless of where it is played.
It just means that more than ever before, there is now the extra motivating factor for the wounded Lions to snap out of their psychological trauma, wake up from their shell-shocked selves and lay their bodies on the line in today’s crucial tie.
I don’t think a win over Uzbekistan in Tashkent is possible.
But if the Lions can play a tight, patient and controlling game, like how my Malaysia Cup veteran friend suggested in his email ( see previous post ), there is every possibility that we can come away with a hard-earned draw.
Look, if the Lebanese can hold Uzbekistan to a 0-0 draw, then why can’t we?
If Raddy Avramovic has figured out what went wrong in the last game and has now changed his tactics to make sure that the mistakes from the 3-7 drubbing are no longer repeated, if the Lions themselves can seize the opportunity in Tashkent to restore their individual and collective reputations, then, seriously, why can’t we pull off a draw?
If the Lions can come away from Tashkent with a point, then my, my, aren’t we in for a real cracker of a match against Saudi Arabia at the National Stadium on 14 June – especially if 40,000 Singapore fans, all clad in red, reverberate the terraces with the mighty Kallang Roar.
If we can draw with Uzbekistan, beat Saudi Arabia and then Lebanon, then who’s to say that we still can’t make it as the runner-up in the group. After all, is it a sure thing that Saudi Arabia can beat Uzbekistan in their return encounter?
If Saudi Arabia does lose to Uzbekistan, then the only thing the die-hards have to worry about subsequently is whether the Lions’ failure to convert all the scoring chances they had against Lebanon at the National Stadium (they won the first leg by a paltry 2-0 but had at least eight other clear scoring chances ) will eventually return to haunt them if the last qualification spot is decided on goal difference.
If that really happens, then we only truly have ourselves to blame.
In the meantime, let’s just keep hoping.
Yours in Sport
Singapore Sports Fan
Kudos to MediaCorp for acquiring the telecast rights to the game.
The match will be shown live on Channel 5 at 10pm tonight, thereby enabling all Singapore fans to catch the Lions in action, instead of having to just rely on newspaper reports the next day or search Youtube for clips of the game.
Since the arrival of cable, save for the news at 9.30pm, I’ve almost stopped watching terrestrial television completely these days.
But I will definitely be tuning in tonight – with a lot of gratitude towards MediaCorp.
(Note: Picture of Lion taken from www.what’s-your-sign.com )