Iran: Nasser Ebrahimi
Singapore: Hussein Aljunied (Singapore)
Host Singapore put on a gutsy display to hold favorites Iran to a 1-1 draw at the national stadium last night.
But there were less than 2000 fans to see the Republic put on their best performance so far. Their determination, hard work ,and strategy foiled the Iranian boast of landslide victory.
Beside the impressive result , Singapore also earned the distinction of the only team in the group stages to score against the formidable Iranian defense., who had withstood the firepower of China , UAE and India.
It was a gem of a goal by defender turned midfielder Razali Saad which produced the equalizer for Singapore. He rose well to head home a cross from right back Marzuki Elias past a stunned Iran keeper Behrouz Soltani in the 61st Minute.
Singapore coach Hossein Aljunaidâ€™s strategy was obvious- concentrate on defense and play for a draw, and his team played to instructions with hard running, swift tackles and close marking, giving the feared Iranians little room.
The Iranians had several chances but most of them either foiled by the alert David Lee in goals or by his quick recovering defense , led by skipper Au-yeong Pak Kuan.
The first half belonged to Iran as they moved in waves into the penalty box. The soggy pitch hampered their progress though ace striker Abdolali Changiz gaVe the Singapore defense some harrowing moments.
With the semifinals already assured, Iran decided to rest their top two strikers , Hamid Alidoosti and Nasser Mohammadkhani , to test reserves Shahroukh Bayani and Reza Fathabadi.
The tight marking Singapore defense forced the Iranians to take long range shots and it hardly troubled David Lee. A mistake a minute before half-time nearly cost Singapore dearly.
Midfielder Pathamanathanâ€™s back pass to David Lee fell short and Reza Fathabadi picked up the ball , beat David with a dribble and then crossed to Changiz , but his shot was saved by Au-yeung.
Iran took the lead in the 55th minute from a penalty. Full back Lin Tang Boon pushed Shahroukh Bayani from behind and Oman Referee Abu Wahid Shanbe pointed to the spot, from which Shahroukh Bayani converted.
Six minutes later, the Iranians were stunned when Razali Saad snatched the equalizer. After that goal , Singapore retreated into defense and held on for a famous draw.
Man of the Match : Abdolali Changiz