Lions want Myanmar friendly ahead of Afghan Asian Cup qualifier
Lions kick off their first Monday get-together
Singapore's football team are set to take on Myanmar as part of preparations for a potentially crucial Asian Cup Group E qualifier against Afghanistan on March 29 in Teheran.
The New Paper understands the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) are in talks with their Myanmar counterparts for an "A" international to be played here.
Singapore are ranked 148th in the world, Myanmar 158th, while the Afghans are No. 153. The Republic are third in Group E, a position that is good enough to see them advance to the third round of Asian Cup qualifiers.
The Lions were fortunate to defeat the Afghans 1-0 at home last October and are four points ahead of them.
Barring a shock Afghanistan win over Japan in Saitama five days before the game against the Lions, Bernd Stange's side are assured of progress to the next round of Asian Cup qualifiers.
In the third round, 24 teams will be vying for 12 direct spots in the 2019 Asian Cup, which will be hosted in the United Arab Emirates.
Singapore are bidding to qualify for the Asian Cup for the first time and in response to queries, an FAS spokesman said: "The national squad to face Afghanistan... will be called up in late March.
"We are currently finalising the arrangements for an 'A' international friendly before that match. More details will be announced in due course."
Yesterday, the FAS organised a day-long seminar for 26 players in and around the fringes of the national squad.
Overseas-based players like Hassan Sunny (Army United, Thailand), Hariss Harun (Johor Darul Ta'zim, Malaysia), Safuwan Baharudin (PDRM, Malaysia) and Baihakki Khaizan and Shahril Ishak (Johor Darul Ta'zim II) were absent.
National coach Bernd Stange.
The series of briefings kicked off the national team "training day" initiative that Stange first wanted to implement in mid-2014.
Under the initiative, Mondays will be set aside for training sessions for the national team.
Previously, the Lions would only get together ahead of matches or major competitions.
It is believed Stange will not hold a session every single Monday because of club commitments.
For example, S.League giants Tampines Rovers - who have 15 players boasting international caps - are likely to kick off their continental competitions, either in the Asian Football Confederation Cup or Champions League, on Feb 23, which is a Tuesday.
Stange, whose contract with the FAS ends in mid-April, said: "I am very happy that we now have this national team training day in place, and that all the clubs support it.
"Today's seminar has given our players key information on how to improve and keep themselves in top condition for the year ahead.
"It is the first of many we are planning to organise this year for our players and technical staff, and builds on the knowledge-sharing sessions we had previously organised."
At Jalan Besar yesterday, the national players sat through various lectures from guest speakers.
FAS' head of referees department K Viswa Nathan delivered a talk about the laws of the game, while a dietician spoke about nutrition in sports.
Gobinathan Nair, director general of the South-east Asia Regional Anti-Doping Organisation, was also invited to speak about anti-doping subjects.
I am very happy that we now have this national team training day in place, and that all the clubs support it.
— National coach Bernd Stange on the first get-together of the national team yesterday