Sundram prefers underdogs' tag against Bahrain
They are the lowest-ranked side in Group E of the Asian Cup qualifiers, and V Sundramoorthy's Lions are bracing themselves for a dogfight in each of the six games that stand between them and history.
Singapore have never qualified on merit for the Finals of the region's top-tier competition and, while they believe they can write their names into the local football annals, there are no illusions about the obstacles that Bahrain, 127th in the Fifa world order, Turkmenistan (144) and Taiwan (159) pose.
The top two teams earn a spot in the 2019 Asian Cup Finals in the United Arab Emirates. Singapore's only appearance at the Finals came in 1984 when they qualified automatically as hosts.
The Lions, who are ranked 163rd, will line up against Bahrain in their opening Group E fixture in Manama on March 28 and they are ready to don the underdogs' tag.
The two teams last met in an international friendly in Riffa last September, when Singapore conceded three penalties to lose 3-1.
Sundram told The New Paper on the sidelines of a Lions' training session at Geylang Lorong 12 on Monday: "On a personal level, I actually prefer the underdogs' tag.
"It is going to be very challenging for us, having been thrown into a group with teams who are ranked higher than us.
"But, in football, anything is possible and we hope to pull off some good results.
"The boys must be mentally and physically ready for what will be very hard battles, starting with this one in Bahrain."
TEAMWORK IS KEY
Midfielder Hariss Harun, on loan with S.League club Home United from Malaysian team Johor Darul Ta'zim, believes teamwork will be key for the Lions, although he is also aware that defence alone will not win games.
"In the last few games, we haven't been able to produce the goods in the final third of the pitch," said the 26-year-old.
"If we can do that, get that final pass and finish it in front of goal, we will be good."
Yesterday, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) released the list of the 23 players for the Asian Cup qualifier against Bahrain.
The average age of the 24 players is 27.25 years.
There is no lack of experience with national captain Shahril Ishak (age 33), striker Khairul Amri (32), midfielder Mustafic Fahrudin (35) and defender Daniel Bennett (39) included in the squad, but there was no place for Warriors defender Baihakki Khaizan. - SHAMIR OSMAN