Team Singapore

A win for confidence, please

“They (Hong Kong) are a dynamic side with good movement, so it would be a good challenge for us.” - Singapore captain Hassan Sunny (above)

They may be friendlies, but are anything but for Singapore.

Not when the Lions are ranked 152nd in the world, desperate for ranking points to climb up, and in need of momentum before most of the team leave for Incheon, South Korea, on Thursday for the Asian Games, with the football tournament kicking off on Sunday.

With star centre back Safuwan Baharudin and nippy winger Faris Ramli set to return from minor injuries, Singapore should be fielding their best 11 against Hong Kong tonight, with the exception of injured left back Shakir Hamzah, who will be replaced by Afiq Yunos.

While the Singapore squad are mostly made up of Under-23 players, world No. 161 Hong Kong have brought their senior side, including foreign talent like defenders Wisdom Fofo Agbo and Jack Sealy and striker Christian Annan.

Assistant national coach Aide Iskandar is mindful of the delicate balance required as he looks to give the youngsters exposure while going for a win.

Aide told The New Paper yesterday: "We would like to see a good performance and get a good result because that will boost our morale ahead of the Asian Games. 

"I'm confident of the young players we have, such as defender Amirul Adli, who did well against Papua New Guinea, and I believe they can do a job against quality opponents like Hong Kong.

"We are going to the Asian Games to get more experience but, at the same time, we also want to bring back good results. I believe we can be competitive against our group opponents Tajikistan, Oman and Palestine.

"The Young Lions have done well to win their last two S.League games and it looks like we are peaking at the right time for the Asian Games."

Captain Hassan Sunny is also looking for a boost and victory before heading to Incheon.

The 30-year-old Warriors FC goalkeeper, one of three overaged players allowed in the Asian Games football tournament, said: "We didn't perform as well as we would have liked in the 2-1 win over Papua New Guinea, possibly because we didn't know what to expect from them.

"But we have played Hong Kong three times in the last two years and they have beaten us twice over there. They are a dynamic side with good movement so it would be a good challenge for us.

"We need to prepare for the Asian Games, but we also need to get more ranking points, so I hope the younger players can step up alongside the more senior ones to help us achieve both objectives."