Wins for Singapore, Syria, Yemen hold Thais

November 9, 2007

BANGKOK, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Bosnian-born Aleksandar Duric marked a dream debut with two first-half goals to give Singapore a 2-0 victory over Tajikistan in the second round of Asia's World Cup qualifiers on Friday.

The 37-year-old Duric, the top scorer in the Singaporean league, got the hosts off the mark on 25 minutes and added his second on the stroke of halftime.

The Southeast Asian champions, who lost five of their six qualifiers for the 2006 finals, held the advantage right to the end after squandering a series of second-half chances.

Singapore's Serbian coach Radojko Avramovic heaped praise on Duric, who was only recently granted Singaporean citizenship having lived in the city-state for seven years.

'He showed us his quality, some great passing and good positioning and did very well with both goals,' Avramovic told Reuters.

'It was a good game. We knew we had to score some early goals to take into the second leg to have a chance of reaching the third round. I'm just disappointed we missed so many chances.'

Syria beat one-time World Cup qualifiers Indonesia 4-1 in Jakarta to take a sizable advantage into next week's second leg.

Feras Ismail put Syria ahead on 17 minutes and Mohamed al Zeno made it 2-0 in the 27th minute.

Budi Sudersono reduced the deficit for Indonesia with a 37th-minute penalty but Ziad Charbo found the net just before the break to leave the hosts with a mountain to climb.