National Team - Lions ● Dec 23, 2022

Lions ready for Myanmar opener at AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022


Takayuki Nishigaya oversees training, 22 December 2022


SINGAPORE, 23 DECEMBER 2022 – Takayuki Nishigaya has called on the Lions to play with belief when they face Myanmar in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 tomorrow evening.


The Group B clash at the Jalan Besar Stadium – sold out for the Singapore zone – will be Singapore’s first encounter of this year’s tournament and the home side will be gunning for a seventh opening win in its history.


READ: Lions squad profiles


The Lions recently returned from an intensive 12-day training camp in Chiba, Japan before following it up with the 3-1 friendly win against the Maldives on Saturday and Nishigaya wants the positive atmosphere and progress made to translate into a good result against Myanmar.


Takayuki Nishigaya at the pre-match press conference, 23 December 2022


“I think the team has been preparing well and with the first game tomorrow at home, we want to fight alongside our home support and show our team spirit,” he said at the pre-match press conference earlier today at the team hotel. “We want to make a good start and I have confidence in my players, and we want to fight as a team. We have to play with confidence, as a team.”


The Japanese did warn against underestimating a Myanmar side that was beaten 6-2 in June’s Asian Cup qualifying as well as 3-0 at last year’s AFF Championship. Ranked two spots above Singapore at 158th, the visitors were perhaps unfortunate to go down 1-0 at home to Malaysia in their opening match on Wednesday and will be eager to bounce back.


Nishigaya will also have to do without goalkeeper Hassan Sunny and centre-back Irfan Fandi, who are both suspended for the match having earned direct red cards in their most recent AFF Championship match against Indonesia in last year’s semi-final second leg.


Irfan Fandi (L) and Ilhan Fandi in training, 22 December 2022


“This Myanmar team is completely different from the previous two matches we played against them,” Nishigaya pointed out. “They have changed a few players and they played more aggressively (against Malaysia) so it is going to be a tough game for us.”


Opposite number Antoine Hey acknowledged his team’s situation and believes that they are capable of giving Singapore problems tomorrow as they eye victory.


“It was a decent performance (against Malaysia) and much improved from the previous times we have played in the past,” the German said. “We need a good result and the aim is to win it. The team is positive and we want to get a result to make everybody happy back home. The good thing is that we have the rhythm, we are fit, look good and we are motivated.”


Hariss Harun during training, 22 December 2022


Nonetheless, captain Hariss Harun knows the importance of getting off to a positive start as the Lions aim to better last year’s run to the semi-finals.


“I think every opening game is really important,” said the 32-year-old, who is set to make his 19th consecutive start in the tournament. “Last year was a perfect example as it sets the tone for the rest of the competition. We can take confidence from the way that we have been preparing but it all boils down to (us showing up during) the 90 minutes tomorrow.”


Kick-off is at 6pm and the match will be LIVE on meWATCH.



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