By: Alia Harvey
We saw the international break come to an end yesterday evening, when Singapore took on world number two, Argentina. Although the game ended 6-0, four of our Stags — Shakir Hamzah, Daniel Bennett, Izwan Mahbud, and Fahrudin Mustafic, featured against one of the powerhouses of world football, with the likes of Angel Di’Maria, Paulo Dybala, Sergio Romero, and Mauro Icardi.
Shakir Hamzah and Daniel Bennett were named in the starting line-up, with both in their usual positions of left-back and centre-back respectively. With Paris Saint-Germain’s Angel Di’Maria playing on the wing, Shakir was handed the task of dealing with the star, and no doubt did a fantastic job. Di’Maria did find room to cross the ball into the box, but not once was he able to get past our very own Shakir. Di’Maria continuously tried to do so, but just couldn’t seem to find a way, and eventually switched wings.
Shakir unfortunately had to come off in the 67th minute with an injury, for Geylang International’s Safirul Sulaiman. Daniel Bennett on the other hand played the full 90 minutes, and was solid throughout. His experience and expertise was on clear display as he handled every situation calmly. He put a halt to the many times Argentina attempted to attack, and was constantly clearing the ball away from danger.
Five minutes into the second half, Home United’s Hassan Sunny, after physio Hafizah Sujad had come on to provide treatment, asked to be substituted with injury. The Stags’ first choice goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud came on as the replacement for Hassan. He took only one goal kick with his right foot and switched to his left, before Daniel Bennett had to come back and take the goal kicks for the Lions.
Singapore’s head coach V. Sundram Moorthy said of Izwan in the press conference, “When he went in, he took the first goal kick with his right leg, that’s where he pulled his muscle. It can happen in the first minute when you go in, or it can happen in the 90th minute, but unfortunately for us it happened in the first minute.”
Fahrudin Mustafic was the last Stag to come on for the Lions, in the 58th minute, to replace Home United’s Irfan Fandi who was stretchered-off. Being regular starters with the Stags, Shakir, Daniel, and Fahrudin were able to communicate well on the pitch.
Despite the heavy defeat, it was a great opportunity and experience for all four of our Stags who featured in yesterday evening’s match to play against some of the world’s best, but we now turn our focus back to the S.League. With the two weeks of international break now over, we will face Balestier Khalsa this Saturday at Jurong West Stadium, where kickoff is 8:30pm.
Come down and support our Stags as we continue to fight for the title!