AffSuzukiCup2020 ● Dec 13, 2021
Lions out to take down Timor-Leste in AFF Suzuki Cup 2020
Faris Ramli celebrates, 8 December 2021
SINGAPORE, 13 DECEMBER 2021 – After starting their ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2020 campaign with maximum points from their first two matches, Singapore are now focused on their next assignment on Tuesday night.
The Lions host Timor-Leste at the National Stadium, Singapore Sports Hub in their third Group A game following 3-0 and 2-1 victories over Myanmar and the Philippines and victory will see them win their opening three matches at the tournament for the first time since 2008.
While there is a “positive” atmosphere within the Singapore camp following the good start, forward Faris Ramli knows there is more work to be done to qualify for the semi-finals.
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“Everyone had an outstanding game against Philippines and we were there for each other – the tackles, runs and everything,” the 29-year-old told FAS.org.sg. “We are happy with the result, but we cannot be too happy with where we are right now.
“We always keep reminding and pushing each other, saying that ‘the job is not done yet’. Everyone has to remain grounded and switched on against Timor-Leste. Of course, we would like to finish top of the group, but the race is still open and even the Philippines are not out of it so we just need to take one game at a time, really.”
A six-day break has helped to recharge the Lions’ batteries and while forward Gabriel Quak has been ruled out, experienced midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman believes they are ready to fire on all cylinders again.
“If we were to play three games in nine days, that would definitely be a bit taxing so I thought it was good to have a short rest before the last two group matches,” the 33-year-old said. “It is nice to beat one of the contenders (Philippines) to go through, but nothing is secured yet. We cannot live in the past; we just have to look forward and try to win every game that is ahead of us.”
Shahdan Sulaiman on the ball, 8 December 2021
On paper, Singapore are favourites to beat Timor-Leste, who are 34 places below them at 194th in the FIFA rankings and the lowest-ranked side in this competition.
With an average age of around 20 years old, their inexperienced squad are already eliminated after a chastening campaign so far with no goals scored and 11 conceded in three matches.
In their one and only meeting with the Lions, Fábio Magrão’s side fell 6-1 in the group stages of the 2018 edition, although they did net an equaliser early in the first half of that game.
Faris Ramli challenges for a ball, 8 December 2021
Faris refuses to underestimate Tuesday’s opponents but is also conscious that the Lions have to take their chances to boost their goal difference.
“I have looked at their past three matches and they have some good individual players and did create some decent chances, so that is something that we need to be careful of,” he said. “We are not going to be overconfident going into this game; at the same time we need to be ourselves and remember our targets. Hopefully we can not only get the points, but also the goals.”
Having scored his 10th international goal in 62 caps against the Philippines, Faris is looking to pick up where he left off in his fourth Suzuki Cup campaign.
“I missed the 2012 tournament due to National Service and I told myself I did not want to miss any more,” said the attacker, who has featured in every edition since 2014. “I felt I had a decent game against Philippines… But every time I have a good game, I know I can do even better and push even more to help the team.
“The goal was something that we worked on… Coach Tatsuma (Yoshida) always emphasises on crossing and finishing to all the players every single day, so it is really satisfying to see what we did in training paying off in the actual game.”
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As for Shahdan, the 2012 winner is relishing the opportunity to thrive in the competition. The playmaker suffered a broken leg during the 2014 edition, was left on the bench for all three group matches in 2016 and subsequently did not make the final cut for 2018.
“I cherish every call-up to the national team and it is great to be playing in a team where the bond is so strong,” he said. “We just have to keep playing to coach Tatsuma’s philosophy and hopefully we can go on to do great things.”