by Chia Han Keong
HE PROMISED changes to his team, after a chastening 0-6 thrashing by Iran on Jan 14.
And Singapore soccer coach Raddy Avramovic did just that, with two new starters and a revamped defence as the Lions faced Jordan in their 2011 Asian Cup qualifier at the National Stadium last night.
The result? An encouraging 2-1 win, with decent performances from the two new starters, left-back Shaiful Esah and goalkeeper Hassan Sunny.
It is a welcome result, after their capitulation in Teheran, where they let in five goals after being reduced to 10 men.
Last night, they showed far more willingness to battle for possession against the more physical Jordan players. They were also disciplined enough to follow through Avramovic's plan of attacking through the flanks, where Muhammad Ridhuan and Shahril Ishak were expected to trouble Jordan with their speed.
The two "newbies" also did not disappoint. Shaiful was an effective patroller on the left flank, defending and supporting the attack with equal verve.
Meanwhile, Hassan endured a nervous start, but two outstanding saves in the second half preserved the Lions' lead, and earned him appeciative applause from the 6,188 fans.
Shaiful's inclusion meant that Daniel Bennett shifted into central defence in place of Precious Emuejeraye, but the Lions hardly missed a beat, dominating the initial exchanges.
They took the lead in the 21st minute with a well-worked goal.
Shahril's lob from midfield beat the Jordanians' offside trap, and Ridhuan timed his run perfectly to head the ball towards Agu Casmir. The Lions striker chested the ball down and rammed his shot easily past goalkeeper Amer Shafi Mahmoud Sabbah.
However, Jordan hit back through a controversial penalty in the 41st minute.
Mohamed Noh Rahman was deemed to have pushed Odai Yousef Isamil Alsaify in the box, although he appeared to have won the aerial battle fairly. Hatem Mohammad Yousef Aqel dispatched the spot kick to the top left corner.
Stung by the equaliser, the Lions began the second half ferociously, in search of a second goal. They got their reward in the 64th minute, after Noh Alam Shah evaded Jordan's offside trap to score with ease.
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