National Team - Lions ● Nov 18, 2018

Opponent Spotlight: Timor-Leste

BANGKOK-THAILAND- Match photo during AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 Final Rounds group B between Timor-Leste vs Thailand at the Rajamangala Stadium on November 9, 2018. Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Lagardere Sport.


SINGAPORE, 19 NOVEMBER 2018 – It is crunch time for Singapore at the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2018. The Lions need to bounce back from last week’s disappointing 1-0 loss to the Philippines as they take on Timor-Leste in a must win clash on Wednesday evening at The National Stadium. We take a look at our next opponents, who are already out of contention to progress and will be playing for pride…


FIFA Ranking: 191
Confederation: AFC (Asia), AFF (South East Asia)
O Sol Nascente , Pequena Nação do Samba
Head Coach: Norio Tsukitate


Timor-Leste, or East Timor, is a sovereign state that occupies the Eastern half of the island of Timor. It shares the other half of the island with Indonesia.


The land area is about 20 times the size of Singapore while the population of the country is only about 1.2 million.


The former colony of Portugal was invaded by Indonesia in 1975 and faced violence and brutality until it achieved independence in 2002.


After achieving independence, the East Timor Football Association was accepted as an associate member of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in 2002 and played their first international match in 2003 – a 3-2 defeat against Sri Lanka in a 2004 AFC Asian Cup qualifying match.


They joined FIFA in 2005 and achieved a monumental first international win in October 2012 when they beat Cambodia 5-1 in an AFF Suzuki Cup qualifying game.


In 2015, Timor-Leste achieved its highest FIFA ranking of 170; today it is positioned at 191.


The top division of club football in Timor-Leste is the Premeira Divisao of the Liga Futebol Amadora (LFA).


The league, which was formed in 2015, has been won by a different team each year, with Boavista FC winning the most recent title.


Prior to this year’s tournament, Timor-Leste has only played in one other AFF Championship. They were invited to join the 2004 Tiger Cup and were drawn into Group B alongside Myanmar, Malaysia and Thailand. They lost all of their games, scoring two goals and conceding 18.


After that year, a qualification round was introduced to the tournament for the lowest-ranking teams in the region. Timor-Leste failed to qualify for the next six tournaments, coming closest in 2012.


They qualified for this year’s AFF Suzuki Cup after seeing off Brunei over two legs in September this year.


After concerns over the floodlighting in the National Stadium in Dili, Timor-Leste had to play their home first leg at the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium in Malaysia. They won the first leg 3-1 and ensured qualification after only losing 1-0 in the second leg in Brunei.



Prior to this year’s AFF Suzuki Cup, the Timor-Leste side, which is the lowest ranked in the tournament, was written off by most pundits due to the youthfulness of the squad and their inexperience at this level.


They managed to earn a creditable 2-2 draw against Cambodia in October in a friendly match, which was part of their preparations for the AFF Suzuki Cup.


Because of the persistent problems of the National Stadium in Dili, Timor-Leste had to play their home matches of this year’s tournament against Thailand and the Philippines in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur respectively.


After facing a 7-0 drubbing at the hand of Thailand on match-day one, Timor-Leste produced two spirited displays against Indonesia and Philippines.


In their second match of the tournament against Indonesia in Jakarta, Timor-Leste took a surprising lead on 48 minutes. However, they could not hold on, eventually slumping to a 3-1 defeat.


Against Philippines on Saturday evening, Timor-Leste were down 3-0 after 68 minutes but showed resilience and almost produced an epic comeback.


They scored in the 73rd and 76th minutes to ensure a nervy finish to the game, which ended in a 3-2 loss.


Having lost their opening three games of the AFF Suzuki Cup, Timor-Leste have no chance of progressing to the semi-finals, with the match against Singapore their only fixture left.

Photo by Lagardere Sport


Although Singapore have never faced Timor-Leste at the senior international level, the sides’ youth teams have met in various competitions in recent times.


A significant match was the 2-1 win for Timor-Leste at the 2018 Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy semi-final in May.


The Under-21 Singapore side was coached by current senior Head Coach Fandi Ahmad and Ikhsan Fandi and Jacob Mahler featured in the starting line-up.


Fandi will be able to take his revenge for that defeat with his senior Lions in the upcoming match, potentially against some of the same Timor-Leste players as eight of the players who started the match for Timor-Leste that night are in their AFF Suzuki Cup squad.


The Timor-Leste side are coached by former Japanese footballer Norio Tsukitate.


The 58-year-old started his coaching career at Japanese club Nagoya Grampus Eight and went on to take on the Head Coach role with the Guam and Bhutan National Teams.


He had a coaching stint in Timor-Leste, overseeing the Under-19 team at the 2013 AFF Youth-Championship in Indonesia.


Norio has been the Head Coach of the senior Timor-Leste side since May this year and was also in-charge of the U23 squad at the 2018 Asian Games in August.


BANGKOK-THAILAND- Match photo during AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 Final Rounds group B between Timor-Leste vs Thailand at the Rajamangala Stadium on November 9, 2018. Picture by Thananuwat Srirasant/Lagardere Sport.


With an average age of 20.65 years, the Timor-Leste squad at this Suzuki Cup is the youngest in the tournament. As many as 14 of the players were in the squad at the U22 2018 Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy in April and 15 of the players were in the 2018 Asian Games squad, which was an U23 tournament.


The average age of the Timor-Leste starting line-up for their opening match against Indonesia was a mere 20 years.


However, they are blessed with some exuberant and pacey attacking players such as Henrique Cruz and Rufino Gama, who are both 20.


The pair, who scored in the 2-1 win against the Singapore U22 side in the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy semi-final, have featured in all three of Timor-Leste’s games so far.


Gama, who plays for LFA side Karketu Dili, was Timor-Leste’s top scorer at the Asian Games with three goals.  He scored his country’s first goal in the Suzuki Cup, a stunning volley from 25 metres against Indonesia.


His potential partner in attack, Cruz, was a key reason for Timor-Leste’s qualification at this year’s tournament. He scored two goals that proved decisive in the first-leg 3-1 win against Brunei.


Elsewhere, another key player for the Timor-Leste’s squad is Jorge Sabas Victor. The central defender is the team’s captain at the age of only 20 years and will be a hurdle for the Lion’s attack to overcome.


Timor-Leste squad
: Aderito Raul Fernandes, Fagio Augusto Da Silva Pereira
Defenders : Candido Monteiro De Oliveira, Jorge Sabas Victor, Gumario Augusto Fernandes Da Silva Moreira , Jose Guterres Silva , Armindo Correira De Almeida, Nidio Ricardo Ferreira Alves, Domingos Ramos Freitas, Adelino Trindade
Midfielders: Yohannes Kapitan Paulus Gusmao, Baptista Belo, Joao Pedro Da Silva Freitas, Filomeno Junior Da Costa, Nelson Sarmento Viegas, Nataniel Reis, Jose Dos Santos Almeida, Gelvanio Angelo Da Costa Marical Alberto, Feliciano Pinheiro Goncalves
Forwards: Henrique Cruz, Rufino Walter Gama, Silveiro Garcia, Edit Romanos Cristovao Savio