National Team - Lions ● Nov 10, 2021

Lions set for Kyrgyz Republic friendly in Dubai


Irfan Fandi in training, 9 November 2021


DUBAI, 10 NOVEMBER 2021 – The Singapore Men’s National Football Team will face the Kyrgyz Republic tomorrow in the first match of their training camp in Dubai.


Tatsuma Yoshida’s charges, who arrived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday as part of preparations for the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2020, are set to take on the White Falcons in an international friendly at Al Hamriya Sports Club Stadium at 5pm local time (9pm SGT).


Ranked 96th in the world by FIFA, Aleksandr Krestinin’s men lie 64 rungs above the Lions and Tatsuma expects a stiff test from the Central Asian nation. The Kyrgyz Republic have improved markedly since Krestinin took charge in 2014, when they were ranked 152nd. The Russian, 43, masterminded a historic first-ever qualification for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup and at the 2019 edition, they progressed to the knockout stages where they fell 3-2 to the UAE in extra time.


Twenty-five players have been included in Krestinin’s squad, who arrived in Dubai on 2 November for their training camp. They face Singapore in the first of two friendly matches, with the second against Bahrain in Manana on 16 November. The matches are part of their preparations for the AFC Asian Cup China 2023™ Qualifiers Final Round in June 2022, which the Lions will also be involved in. Attacking midfielder Mirbek Akhmataliev, 27, who scored a league-best 17 goals and made five assists for Abdysh-Ata Kant as they finished second in the 2021 Kyrgyz Premier League, could make his international debut. Four of his team-mates are also in the squad, along with eight from champions Dordoi Bishkek, who won their 13th league crown.



Tatsuma, whose side will face Morocco A’ on the 16th, told “These two matches will be quite tough. The Kyrgyz Republic are around the same level as the top teams in Southeast Asia, like Thailand and Vietnam. Morocco A’ is a domestic selection but I have watched their matches and they play at a high level. It will be a good experience for us.”


The Japanese emphasised that the most important things he wants to see during the matches are fighting spirit as well as effort to apply the playing concepts and philosophies of the team. The 47-year-old, who has overseen centralised training since 25 October, is pleased with how the sessions have gone and wants the positive mood to carry over into the training camp.


“Those two weeks, our focus was on improvement,” he said. “We have to get into a good habit for things such as running and playing hard and playing forward and effective transitions; without these things, it is difficult to beat opponents. I can see that they have all tried their best to be better and I feel happy with their attitude and efforts.



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“We can make six substitutions tomorrow and I will probably use all. We will be able to see how we play against opposition of a higher level. It is also an opportunity to test different formations and combinations, as well as possibly having certain players play in different positions.


“The most important thing for these two matches is for us to try, try and try. Mistakes and errors will happen, and we have to solve those and improve before the Suzuki Cup. But if we do not try to play well and try everything we have practiced, if we think too much and do not want to make a mistake, that would not be beneficial. I want the boys to not be afraid.”



Singapore midfielder Song Uiyoung shared the same sentiments, noting that the past two weeks of training has been “high-intensity” and that the players are looking forward to getting game time. The match will be the Lions’ first since the World Cup Qualifiers in June and first international friendly since they played Qatar in November 2019.


The Lion City Sailors star is one of six uncapped players in the team and could potentially make his international debut, a prospect he is looking forward to but at the same time something he is not allowing to distract him from staying focused.


“So far, everything has gone well,” said Song, who became a citizen in August, of his first overseas trip with the Lions. “I am very motivated and I want to put in a good performance on the field for the team and for the country. We have prepared well, we have established good training routines and I am going to do my best for my first game if called upon.”



  • Syazwan Buhari, Zharfan Rohaizad, Nur Adam Abdullah, Tajeli Salamat, Song Uiyoung and Amy Recha will make their international debuts if they play.
  • Safuwan Baharudin could make a 17th consecutive start, the longest streak in the current squad. He will also earn his 97th cap if he plays.
  • Jacob Mahler is the player with the longest time period elapsed since his last Lions appearance in the current squad. He will make his first appearance since 13 November 2018 if he plays.
  • This will be Singapore’s third international encounter with the Kyrgyz Republic, whom they lost 1-0 at home and drew 1-1 away with on 3 February 2001 and 27 February 2001 respectively during World Cup qualifying.


Singapore Men’s National Team fixtures in Dubai

Match Date and Time
Kyrgyz Republic vs Singapore 11 November 2021, Thursday
5pm (9pm SGT)
Morocco A’ vs Singapore* 16 November 2021, Tuesday
5pm (9pm SGT)

*Please note that this is NOT an international ‘A’ fixture.


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