A trio of uncapped players is part of the 26-strong team that will face Palestine, Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia in Riyadh; Lions will play Afghanistan in a training match prior
SINGAPORE, 2021, MAY 17 – Singapore Men’s National Team Coach Tatsuma Yoshida today called up 26 players for the remaining three Group D fixtures of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2.
The Lions will play Palestine (3 June), Uzbekistan (7 June) and Saudi Arabia (11 June) next month in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which was determined in March by the AFC as the centralised venue to host Group D until completion. Tatsuma’s charges are currently third in the standings, two points and four points behind Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia respectively.
There are three uncapped players in the squad – midfielder Saifullah Akbar, winger Idraki Adnan and forward Ilhan Fandi; this is also Idraki’s first official National Team call-up. Midfielder M Anumanthan, who last played for the Lions in June 2019, returns to the fold while defenders Hafiz Sujad and Madhu Mohana have the opportunities to make their first international appearances since March 2018 and October 2018 respectively.
Defensive stalwart Safuwan Baharudin will miss out as a precaution, following a concussion injury that he sustained two-and-a-half weeks ago. Baihakki Khaizan, whose spouse is due to give birth next week, will link up with the squad directly in Riyadh; together with team captain Hariss Harun.
“Saifullah, Idraki and Ilhan are all here on merit as they have performed well in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) this season and also impressed during our training sessions in March,” Tatsuma said. “Saifullah has maintained his consistency from last season, while Idraki is an exciting attacker and gives us options on the flanks. Ilhan may be young, but he is a good talent and can be an option upfront.
“Anu has been a key player for Kedah in a playing environment with a high level, while Madhu has always been one of the players I have kept tabs on and similarly, he has shown good performances in recent times as well as displayed strong motivation and a good attitude. Hafiz has also been in good form and condition, and offers us options in both defence and midfield.”
As part of preparations for the trio of qualifiers, the Lions will play Afghanistan in a closed-door training match on 29 May in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The team is scheduled to arrive in Riyadh on 31 May.
“We have not played international friendlies for over a year, so the match against Afghanistan offers us the opportunity to prepare against an international opponent and give game time to those who require it, as well as test different tactics ahead of the qualifiers,” Tatsuma said.
The qualifiers, which were postponed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, offer Singapore the opportunity of qualifying for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. The group winner will secure a place each in the third round of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifying and 2023 AFC Asian Cup; this also applies to the four best runners-up across the eight groups.
With everything to play for, Tatsuma has called on the team to prove their worth.
“We know that the opponents will be very strong, and it will be a tough challenge,” he said. “We have to defend properly and be patient when needed, while at the same time be aware of and follow the concepts we have always practiced in training and recent matches.
“However, we have to challenge in every match even if our opponents are strong. As a team, we will aim to play for victory in every match and everyone wants to try and secure second spot in the group.”
Forward Gabriel Quak added: “It has been one and a half years since we have competed on the international stage and the whole team cannot wait to put on the National Team jersey to represent Singapore again. We will give our all in the remaining three games and hopefully, lift the spirits of the nation during these current tough times.”
Every member of the traveling Lions contingent will be adhering to strict safe-management measures and all other necessary safety protocols in order to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission during the entire duration of our time overseas.
These include mandatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab tests two days prior to every departure and match, daily body-temperature monitoring and symptom checks, restriction of movement only to official facilities (team hotel, training venue, stadiums) and mask-wearing at all times outside of hotel rooms. To aid with these, there will be one designated Team Medical Liaison Officer and one Team Hygiene Implementation Officer within the Lions’ medical backroom staff. All local-based personnel have also been fully vaccinated i.e received both doses of either the Pfizer- BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
The Lions depart Singapore on 25 May.
Singapore Men’s National Team Squad for May and June 2021
Hassan Sunny (Lion City Sailors), Izwan Mahbud (Unattached), Zaiful Nizam (Balestier Khalsa)
Amirul Adli (Lion City Sailors), Baihakki Khaizan, Madhu Mohana (both Tampines Rovers), Hafiz Abu Sujad, Nazrul Nazari (both Hougang United), Irfan Fandi (BG Pathum United), Shakir Hamzah (Perak), Zulqarnaen Suzliman (Young Lions)
Hami Syahin (Young Lions), Hariss Harun, Saifullah Akbar, Shahdan Sulaiman (all Lion City Sailors), Idraki Adnan (Hougang United), M Anumanthan (Kedah Darul Aman), Yasir Hanapi (Tampines Rovers), Zulfahmi Arifin (Unattached)
Faris Ramli, Gabriel Quak, Hafiz Nor (all Lion City Sailors), Hazzuwan Halim (Balestier Khalsa), Ikhsan Fandi (FK Jerv), Ilhan Fandi (Young Lions), Shawal Anuar (Hougang United)
National Team Fixtures for May and June 2021
Afghanistan vs Singapore
29 May 2021 (Saturday), 10:00pm SGT
JA Sports Centre (Dubai, UAE)
FIFA WORLD CUP QATAR 2022™ QUALIFIERS:
Palestine vs Singapore
04 June 2021 (Friday), 2:00am SGT
King Fhad International Stadium (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)
Uzbekistan vs Singapore
08 June 2021 (Tuesday), 2:00am SGT
King Fhad International Stadium (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)
Singapore vs Saudi Arabia
12 June 2021 (Saturday), 2:00am SGT
King Saud University Stadium (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)
Source: Football Association of Singapore