Singapore Roars as Lions Triumph Guam 2-1 in First Leg of World Cup Qualifier
The SingaBrigade, a die-hard Singapore football fan group, is a constant sight at the Singapore national men's football team matches.
Last night (Oct 12), supported by the voices of a 1000-strong Team Nila army, the SingaBrigade roared as the Lions stormed to a 2-1 win over Guam in the first round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers at the National Stadium. The victory places Singapore at a crucial advantage in the two-legged affair as they seek to qualify for the second round of the World Cup Qualifiers, where the winner will group with South Korea, China and Thailand.
The home side largely dominated the game from the first whistle. As early as the ninth minute, midfielder Song Ui Yong expertly brought down a ball over the top from Lionel Tan to find Shawal Anuar with his cross, only for Shawal to sky the ball over the bar. Moments later, Song again found space to square a pass into the box but could not find a teammate to connect at the end of it.
But with the home crowd of 10,355 behind them, the Lions continued roaring. The strong resistance from the Guamanians was finally broken in the 35th minute when another ball over the top from Lionel found Christopher Van Huizen in space on the left flank. Despite a loose first touch, the wing-back left his man stranded before curling an unstoppable effort past an outstretched Dallas Jaye in goal. Six minutes later, the men in red doubled their advantage when the visitors failed to clear their lines from a corner. Jacob Mahler was first to react on the rebound, thumping the ball home as the Lions went into half-time two goals up.
Emerging from the break, the chances continued to rack up for Singapore. Seven minutes after the restart, Shawal Anuar could have killed the game off when he found himself in space after losing his marker from a corner. However, his header crashed against the post, with Lionel’s rebound going over the bar. Having come on in the 60th minute for his first appearance for the national team since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament on Dec 30 last year, the crowd met Ilhan Fandi's substitution with rapturous cheers. While the 20-year-old was looking to impress, his party was spoilt when he saw the assistant referee’s flag raised for offside after finding the back of the net on two occasions.
Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny was largely a spectator throughout the game, except for stopping a one-on-one effort from Guam midfielder Alec Taitague in the 27th minute against the run of play. Yet, a 90th-minute free-kick from Guam captain Jason Cunliffe threatened to dampen the occasion. Despite barely having anything to do all evening, the Singapore custodian was rooted to the spot as Cunliffe placed his free kick perfectly into the top corner.
Reflecting after the match, Mahler said: “We played well and dominated the game, but there’s still stuff we have to work on as a team, and conceding a goal at the end is unacceptable for us. We need to focus through the 90 minutes and be consistent.”
The Lions head to Guam next Tuesday (Oct 17), seeking to hold out their one-goal advantage in the hope of progressing to the next round, hopefully giving their fans more to roar about.