Second-best would be good for Under-22s

HIGH STAKES: Singapore U-22 coach Richard Bok (above, with green bibs) speaking to his team before training in Vientiane, Laos. 

It is fairly uncommon for an opening group match to be labelled an all-or-nothing decider, but tonight's AFC Under-23 Championship qualifier between the Laos Under-22s and Singapore Under-22s is just that.

Singapore Under-22 coach Richard Bok knows that with powerhouses China the hot favourites to top Group J and minnows Mongolia almost certainly set to be the whipping boys, it will be a high-stakes showdown with the hosts for the right to finish runners-up, and have the chance to advance to the AFC Under-23 Championships in Qatar next year.

Bok has set a six-point target from the three games in the group, which will give the Singapore side a good chance of finishing as one of the five best runners-up from the 10 groups that will also advance to the championships proper.

Read the full report in our print edition on March 27.

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