National Team - Lions ● Dec 26, 2022
Lions face Laos in second group match
Takayuki Nishigaya and Shahdan Sulaiman, 26 December 2022
VIENTIANE, 26 DECEMBER 2022 – Singapore are seeking a second win in as many matches when they take on Laos tomorrow evening in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022.
Following the 3-2 opening victory against Myanmar on Saturday at home, the Lions sit third in Group B behind Vietnam on goal difference and three points behind leaders Malaysia.
The hosts come into the encounter on the back of two defeats in as many matches against the top two and anything less than three points at the New Laos National Stadium tomorrow will extinguish their knock-out hopes.
Singapore with their Laotian counterparts, 26 December 2022
Singapore midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman urged the team to build on the momentum from defeating Myanmar but cautioned against underestimating their opponents.
“It was good that we got the three points to start the campaign,” he said at the pre-match press conference this afternoon. “However, Laos have nothing to lose at this stage and the pressure is lifted off them, which could be dangerous for us if we are not careful.”
In forwards Soukaphone Vongchiengkham and Billy Ketkeophomphone, Michael Weiss’ men have the ability to punish any lapses. Vongchiengkham, the captain who is one appearance away from equalling his country’s all-time record, is also third in their all-time scoring charts. France-born Ketkeophomphone, 32, is the first player of Southeast Asian descent to play in Ligue 1 and scored six times for Angers during three seasons with the French side.
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Head coach Takayuki Nishigaya is aware of the threats and called for focus from the Lions. The team returns to training this evening, having journeyed for eight and a half hours yesterday from Singapore to Vientiane as the unavailability of a direct flight meant a necessary transit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
“We have been watching Laos’ games and know that they have some quality players, so we have to prepare accordingly,” he said. “Like Shahdan said, they have nothing to lose and it is a home game, so they will be (more) aggressive and we have to prepare for that. There are no easy games in this tournament and we have to fully concentrate for tomorrow.”
Irfan Fandi in training, 23 December 2022
Goalkeeper Hassan Sunny and centre-back Irfan Fandi are available for selection by Nishigaya after being suspended for the opening match, while forward Ilhan Fandi did not suffer a concussion on Saturday and is cleared to play.
Singapore have come out on top against Laos in each of the last nine meetings, with the most recent one being a 2-0 international friendly win at the Yishun Stadium on 13 November 2014 thanks to goals from Baihakki Khaizan and Khairul Amri.
Kick-off will be at 6pm Singapore time and the match will be broadcast LIVE on meWATCH.