Football fans were left dumbstruck after watching the Lions horror show in Riyadh, which saw them going down 4-0 to Palestine in a Group D World Cup qualifiers in the wee hours of 4 June.
Even the most ardent fans of the Singapore Lions were left baying for blood after what can only be described as one of Singapore’s most tragic performances in recent years.
While national coach Tatsuma Yoshida had hoped for four points from the three matches in Riyadh, it now looks like the Lions may return to Singapore with nothing to show from their three qualifying matches in Riyadh, with powerhouses Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia up next.
Tatsuma took responsibility for the shocking defeat and apologised to fans.
“The result is the result. It cannot change.
“It’s really painful, we have to accept this result and today’s performance,” he said in a short video posting put up on the Football Association of Singapore’s Facebook page.
Palestine’s strategy to push the Lions into their own half worked to a T from the get go, and this stunned the Singapore side which seemed tentative, and disjointed.
“The boys were a bit nervous,” Tatsuma added.
But what caused the nerves, he did not explain.
Goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud, for one, showed up his weaknesses and unease in goal, in as early as the 10th minute when while taking his time to clear, he was almost dispossessed by Palestine’s Oday Dabbagh right in front of his own goal.
It was Dabbagh who made it 2-0 to Palestine after his close range shot crept past Izwan, who was a fraction too slow to react.
Two other Palestine goals in the first half came through penalties.
The first penalty was conceded after Madhu Mohana took down Dabbagh, who was running at goal and then in the 30th minute, Irfan Fandi was adjudged to have handled in the box, a decision which was rather unfair upon review.
With Palestine breaking down almost any foray into their territory, Tatsuma must have realised albeit rather late that his experiment was not showing any results up front, and was conceding at the back.
He made some changes at the break and brought on 37-year-old Baihakki Khaizan to marshal the defence, and also introduced Faris Ramli in place of Ilhan Fandi, whose debut in a competitive match should be better forgotten.
The changes brought some life into the Lions, but they just could not find a way through and conceded a fourth with about four minutes left on the clock when Yasir Hamed tapped in a rebound.
“I feel big disappointment, big pain. But it’s not on them (the players).
“It’s because of my management and it’s on me,” said Tatsuma.
The Lions face off against Uzbekistan next on 8 June.
Photos: FAS and AFC