Family and die-hards give Lions full backing
"I don't think they might even make it through to the semi-finals, there are a lot of strong teams this time."
A small band of around 30, made up of family and fans, were at Changi Airport Terminal 2 yesterday to send off the national team for their AFF Suzuki Cup assignment in Manila.
They all echoed the same sentiment - that the Lions had a tough task ahead of them, but they will back them no matter what happens.
V Sundramoorthy's men have been drawn in the proverbial 'Group of Death' and open their Group A campaign against hosts Philippines on Saturday, before dates with defending champions Thailand and dangerously unpredictable Indonesia.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Tan Chin Tiong, 43, a member of the ExcluSinga fan club, said: "The Philippines are the top ranked team in South-east Asia and have European players. Thailand have always been a very strong team, so it's going to be a big hurdle for the Lions.
"But, I'm still supporting them, we will always be die-hard fans of the Lions."
Local actress and singer Norfasarie was at the airport to say goodbye to her husband, veteran Singapore defender Baihakki Khaizan, 32.
The 33-year-old mother of three will not be in Manila due to the children's school schedules.
Showing off her football knowledge, she hoped the Lions have a positive mind set and urged their fans to get behind them.
"I try not to read what the critics say about my husband and his team, and if I do, I don't relay the content to him," she told TNP
"They're in a strong group with really tough matches, especially the first two, and they need a positive mind set.
"I wish them all the best."
Striker Khairul Amri's wife, Eva Roslan, also has to take care of the children while he's away.
The 33-year-old is desperately hoping Amri and the rest of the Lions do well .
Said Eva: "I wish I could join them but I've got to watch the kids at home.
"I hope they do their best. Their results recently have not been great, but they shouldn't lose hope.
"I don't think the players need to fear any team."
While most of the "football-wives" will not be joining their husbands in Manila, around 44 die-hard fans of the Lions will be there.
Akbar Hashim, 54, the popular tour operator, said: "This time I have organised the trip... but mainly for the matches against the Philippines and Thailand.
"I don't think anyone will have a chance to take an extra week of leave to catch the third group game against Indonesia..
"As a fan, we should not be negative about the Lions, the ball is round, anything can happen.
"I have a principle - whatever the outcome, win, lose or draw, the team will still have our full support."
Everybody’s looking down on us because we haven’t been getting good results... I would be disappointed as well (with recent results). But we’ll do our best — we’re carrying the nation’s flag and it’s a big responsibility for everyone. Hopefully, we’ll all rise to the occasion.
— Lions defender Baihakki Khaizan
We have the quality in this squad and the right balance. In football, no matter how well you prepare, you need that little bit of luck... Everything is here. Hopefully things will click into gear for us.
— Winger Faris Ramli