National Team - Lions ● Dec 29, 2022
Lions face Vietnam test in third group match
Takayuki Nishigaya, 29 December 2022
SINGAPORE, 29 DECEMBER 2022 – The Lions will undergo their stiffest test of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 tomorrow night when Vietnam come calling.
The 96th-ranked visitors are the highest-ranked side in the tournament and will be seeking a third straight win to extend their lead at the top of Group B. Likewise, Singapore have also won both of their first two matches – against Myanmar and Laos – and sit third on goal difference behind Malaysia.
A result at the Jalan Besar Stadium in the Lions’ second home match of the campaign will boost their chances of qualifying for the semi-finals and Takayuki Nishigaya has called on his players to rise to the challenge.
“I know that tomorrow’s game is the most important for us (so far), but we just have to focus (on doing our best),” he said at the pre-match press conference today afternoon. “Of course, I understand that Vietnam is a strong team but tomorrow is a home game so we have to be aggressive and show our style of play. Many of our fans are coming and I am really happy about that; I want us to play with them and show a good performance.”
Irfan Fandi, 29 December 2022
Centre-back Irfan Fandi, who netted on Tuesday’s win against Laos in Vientiane, echoed his head coach’ sentiments and asserted that while the Lions respect the Viets, they will not fear them.
“Communication and team shape is really important (tomorrow) so all of us have to understand (what we need to do) and stay focused,” he said. “We have to communicate and help each other, and just give our best. Anything can happen… We have to go into the game with the desire to win.”
Both acknowledged that it will be a tough test against Park Hang-seo’s charges, who have lost just one in 26 matches against Southeast Asian opposition across all competitions since he took charge – the 2-0 defeat against Thailand in the first leg of last edition’s semi-final. They won 19 of those, including the most recent meeting against Singapore – a 4-0 friendly win in September in Ho Chi Minh City.
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Attacking midfielder Nguyễn Văn Toàn is suspended after being dismissed in their 3-0 win against Malaysia on Tuesday but still possess plenty of offensive threat in the likes of Nguyễn Quang Hải, Nguyễn Tiến Linh and Nguyễn Hoàng Đức. At the back, they have kept six clean sheets in a row, with Japan the last team to breach their goal.
In the Singapore camp, Nishigaya mentioned that there are no major injury issues and despite the almost 12-hour journey back from Vientiane that ended with the team arriving late at night yesterday, spirits remain high.
“With regard to our previous two games, we were able to use many (different) players because of tactical and fitness reasons, which is a good sign (that everyone can contribute),” he said. “Before coming into the tournament, we knew that there are no easy games so I am happy to have got six points (so far). Every player is ready to play… They are very tough (in spirit) and I am happy to see their commitment.”
Kick-off will be at 8.30pm Singapore time and the match will be broadcast LIVE on meWATCH.