National Team - Lions ● Jun 03, 2021
Preview: Lions raring to go against Palestine
Tatsuma Yoshida addresses the media ahead of Singapore’s match against Palestine, 2 June 2021 (Photo: Saudi Arabian Football Federation)
RIYADH, 2 JUNE 2021 – After going slightly more than 18 months without competitive action, the Lions will finally take to the field tomorrow night.
Tatsuma Yoshida’s charges resume their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and AFC Asian Cup China 2023™ Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 campaign against Palestine, with kick-off at 9pm local time (2am SGT, 4 June). The match will be broadcast LIVE on Mediacorp’s Channel 5 and meWATCH platform. It will be the first of their three remaining matches in Group D, which will all be played in the centralised venue of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
There is everything to play for against the Palestinians, who succumbed to a 2-1 defeat at Jalan Besar Stadium in September 2019. Singapore’s last international outing was a 2-1 away victory against Yemen, which has put them third in the current standings. They are two and four points behind Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia respectively, with qualification to the next round of World Cup qualifying and an Asian Cup spot at stake.
While Tatsuma cautioned against taking their opponents lightly, the Japanese tactician asserted that the Lions are raring to go.
“Palestine will be a big challenge for us as we know they are strong,” he said at the pre-match press conference earlier this evening at Mrsool Park Stadium. “I respect their style of play; they are powerful and play collectively. However, we have to challenge (ourselves) to beat them. Our preparations are done and we are ready to go.”
Yasir Hanapi will captain Singapore in the absence of Hariss Harun (Photo: Saudi Arabian Football Federation)
Yasir Hanapi, who will wear the armband tomorrow at King Fahd International Stadium, echoed Tatsuma’s sentiments. As part of preparations, the Lions spent four days in Dubai for a training camp, which included a 1-1 draw against Afghanistan in a closed-door training match.
“So far, I think the team has been preparing and training well for this match,” the Tampines Rovers midfielder said. “We cannot take the game for granted; we beat them last time but it does not mean this will be an easy match. I feel very honoured (to be captain)… and we are ready to go.”
It will be Tatsuma’s tenth official match since taking charge in June 2019 and he acknowledged that the task at hand has been made more difficult with the absences of captain Hariss Harun (personal family reasons), Safuwan Baharudin and Ikhsan Fandi (both injured). However, the 46-year-old prefers not to dwell on the negatives and has complete faith in the 24-strong squad that is currently in Riyadh.
“Even if we have lost some players (this time), I trust the players who are in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “We have to do our very best and most importantly, we just (have to) play (our game).
“In our previous match against Palestine, we received fantastic support at home; while our fans will not be with us this time, we know that we still play with their support and we want to bring good news (in terms of a good result) to them.”