National Team - Lions ● Aug 13, 2020
Statement from Head Coach Tatsuma Yoshida on postponement of World Cup Qualifiers
SINGAPORE, 13 AUGUST 2020 – Singapore National Team Head Coach Tatsuma Yoshida has made a statement regarding the postponement of the Lions’ upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 qualifiers.
Yesterday afternoon, FIFA and the AFC announced that they had taken a joint decision to postpone the upcoming Asian Qualifiers, scheduled to be played this October and November, to 2021 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lions were set to play Palestine (away) and Saudi Arabia (home) in October, and Uzbekistan (away) in November, with these three matches already postponed from their original March and June dates.
This follows from the ASEAN Football Federation’s decision two weeks ago to postpone this year’s Suzuki Cup, slated to be played at the end of this year, to 2021 as well.
While this means that the Lions will not be playing any competitive international matches for this year, Coach Tatsuma remains positive and said: “While it is unfortunate to learn that the Lions’ upcoming FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 qualifiers against Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan have been postponed to 2021, we fully understand and support the decision by FIFA and AFC. We had been looking forward to resuming our campaign but in light of the current circumstances, and our collective priority from the outset to focus primarily on the health and well-being of our players, staff, fans and local community, we are committed to work alongside our global and regional football community to overcome the common adversary in COVID-19.
“There are still three games to go and we have every chance of qualifying for the next round so that will be our priority. My backroom staff and I have been in regular contact with the local as well as foreign-based players. They want nothing more than to get back to the pitch wearing the National jersey but given the circumstances, they know and understand why this is not possible yet. Until the time comes, the players will continue to train remotely with their clubs while my staff and I adapt and refine the plans that we have in place.”
Singapore are currently third in Group D with seven points from five games, two points behind leaders Uzbekistan and one behind second-placed Saudi Arabia, who have a game in hand.