Home matches key in World Cup qualifiers: Tatsuma Yoshida
Lions will kick off their World Cup 2022 qualifiers with two home games
The Lions will kick off their World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign with three home games in their first four fixtures, and national coach Tatsuma Yoshida is adamant that his side must make their early home advantage count.
Singapore, who sit 162nd in the Fifa standings, will first face 142-ranked Yemen at the National Stadium on Sept 5, before playing world No. 102 Palestine at the Jalan Besar Stadium five days later.
Then come the Group D big guns in October.
The Lions travel to Buraidah to face Asia's seventh-ranked team, Saudi Arabia, on Oct 10 before returning home to host Uzbekistan, the 10th-ranked team on the continent, at the National Stadium on Oct 15.
The eight group winners and the four best runners-up will advance to the third round, as well as the 2023 Asian Cup.
The second-round World Cup qualifiers also serve as 2023 Asian Cup qualifying matches, with the other four runners-up, eight third-placed teams, and best fourth-placed teams progressing to the third round of the Asian Cup qualifiers.
The rest of the teams may still qualify for the Asian Cup if they progress from a play-off round.
Ahead of his first competitive fixtures since his appointment in May, Yoshida said: "I have been raring to start this qualifying campaign ever since the draw was made one month ago.
"It is important for us to do well in our home matches in order to stand a chance of progressing to the next stage of qualifying, for not just the World Cup, but also the Asian Cup.
"We must make our home advantage count and this can only be achieved if we have strong support from the stands.
"While our group is a challenging one, a vociferous home atmosphere would make the key difference and will undoubtedly spur our team on."
The Japanese coach has not picked his squad for the matches against Yemen and Palestine, but he did call up 25 local-based players for training sessions yesterday and this morning.
Yoshida's first two matches after taking over the Lions' reins ended in a win and a loss.
The 45-year-old's first game saw the Lions beat the Solomon Islands 4-3, thanks to an 84th-minute winner from captain Hariss Harun on June 8 at the National Stadium.
Three days later, the Lions fell 2-1 to Myanmar at the same venue after a Kyaw Ko Ko brace.
SINGAPORE'S OPENING WORLD CUP 2022 QUALIFIERS
- SEPT 5: Yemen (National Stadium)
- l SEPT 10: Palestine (Jalan Besar Stadium)
- l OCT 10: Saudi Arabia (King Abdullah Sport City Stadium)
- OCT 15: Uzbekistan (National Stadium)
*Tickets for home matches go on sale from 9am today at www.sportshub.com.sg