Safuwan, Irfan Fandi impress Sundram before Asian Cup qualifier

Head coach V. Sundramoorthy has a selection dilemma about whether to persist with Singapore's latest central defensive partnership of ex-Melbourne City utility Safuwan Baharudin and teenager Irfan Fandi or opt for a more experienced pair for Tuesday's 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Bahrain.

The Lions' boss will reflect on Thursday night's 2-1 friendly defeat to Afghanistan in Doha before finalising his starting side for the third-round opener in Riffa.

Sundramoorthy went with the more youthful combination rather than start with 39-year-old Daniel Bennett, or Fahrudin Mustafic, 35. 26-year-old Madhu Mohana was also left out. Another veteran Baihakki Khaizan, 33, has completely disappeared from view, and hasn't been selected this year.

Against the Afghans, PDRM FA midfielder Safuwan returned to his old position in central defence, forming a speedy partnership with 19-year-old Irfan, who can also play as a striker.

Although Singapore conceded goals in both halves, Safuwan and Irfan did well enough to give their coach food for thought as he looks to snap a six-game losing streak against Bahrain.

Our Lions departed for Doha this morning to face Afghanistan on Thursday, before playing their opening 2019 AFC Asian Cup final qualification round match against Bahrain next Tuesday. Warriors FC's Ho Wai Loon and Hougang United FC's Zulfahmi Arifin have been called up to the 23-man squad, replacing Shahril Ishak and Hafiz Sujad who have not recovered from their injuries. Send your best wishes to the team here!

A post shared by FAS (@fasingapore) on

Sundramoorthy drew positives from Singapore's first match since November's AFF Suzuki Cup.

"It's been a while our last international game... we started slow but eventually we got into the game," he told The New Paper.

"The boys gave everything, we were aggressive and fought for every ball but we were unlucky. We were much better than Afghanistan in the second half and a draw would have been a fairer result.

"We have to move on and more importantly, plan and improve for the match against Bahrain."

Bahrain drew 1-1 with Tajikistan in a home friendly on Thursday night, scoring their equaliser in the third minute of added time through Kameel Al Aswad.