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Safuwan brace drives Singapore to opening AFC WC Qualifiers win

Utility player Safuwan Baharudin scored two first half goals to inspire Singapore to a thumping 4-0 away victory over Cambodia in their AFC second round 2018 World Cup qualifier at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.

It was the opening match of Group E, which also contains 2011 Asian champions Japan, Syria and Afghanistan.

After striker Khairul Amri had given the Lions a 1-0 lead in the first 10 minutes, Safuwan struck in the 21st and 35th minutes to put Bernd Stange's side in firm control before half time.

The LionsXII enforcer -- who became his nation's first import to the A-League after a successful spell with Melbourne City earlier this year -- followed his goals with a yellow card as Singapore went into half time with a 3-0 lead. Earlier in the half, he had been stretchered off the pitch after receiving a knock.

The visitors extended their advantage when Warriors FC forward Fazrul Nawal turned in a chest-down from midfielder Hariss Harun to put Singapore ahead 4-0 in the 54th minute.

They almost made it 5-0 in the 65th minute when a free kick from Shaiful Esah cannoned off the bar.

Safuwan Baharudin's brace helped Singapore to a 4-0 away win against Cambodia in their opening Group E World Cup qualifier. Photo credit: Football Association of Singapore

Veteran forward Shahril Ishak came on for Khairul Amri in the 79th minute, earning his 124th cap making him the most capped international in Singapore history.

At 154th in the FIFA rankings, Singapore are 24 places above Cambodia, who had lost 4-2 to the island nation in a pre-AFF Suzuki Cup friendly last November.

In their next World Cup qualifiers on June 16, Singapore will play Japan in Saitama while Cambodia host Afghanistan.

Singapore starting lineup: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Shaiful Esah, Madhu Mohana, Hafiz Sujad, Safuwan Baharudin, Zulfahmi Arifin, Nazrul Nazari, Hariss Harun (C), Izzdin Yacob,  Fazrul Nawaz, Khairul Amri 

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