Singapore draw Bahrain, Turkmenistan and Taiwan in Asian Cup qualifiers
Singapore to face Bahrain, Turkmenistan and Taiwan in Asian Cup qualifiers
ASIAN CUP QUALIFIERSGROUP E
Bahrain (Fifa ranking 123)
After a disappointing Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup campaign that saw them booted out in the group stages, the Republic's national football team have been presented with a chance for redemption.
In a draw held in Abu Dhabi last night, the Lions were drawn into Group E of the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup qualifiers.
Singapore will face Bahrain, Turkmenistan and Taiwan, in what is shaping up to be a very competitive group.
The top two teams earn a spot in the 2019 Asian Cup Finals in the United Arab Emirates.
Bahrain are 123rd in the Fifa rankings, with Turkmenistan at 143rd and Taiwan in 157th spot, eight places ahead of the 165th-ranked Singapore.
The only time Singapore played in the Asian Cup Finals was in 1984, when they qualified automatically as hosts.
Speaking to The New Paper from Abu Dhabi, Singapore coach V Sundramoorthy said that he is looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead.
"All the countries in Group E have good teams and we will start our preparations immediately by analysing these opponents and our team will definitely do our best to qualify," said the 51-year-old.
While Singapore have not beaten Bahrain in six previous attempts, last year's 3-1 defeat in Manama saw all three of Bahrain's goals coming from penalties.
The Republic's Under-21 side with the likes of Ikhsan Fandi and Dhukhilan Jeevamani have had a little more joy, managing a 0-0 draw with their Bahraini counterparts at the 2015 Bangabandhu Cup.
The senior Lions have, however, enjoyed better results against their other Group E opponents.
In 2009, an Aleksandar Duric double saw Singapore beat Turkmenistan 4-2 at an invitational tournament in Ho Chi Minh City, while in 2011 they earned a 3-2 win over Taiwan.
Sundram expects his players to start staking a claim for a spot in his side, who will kick off their qualifying campaign on March 28 away to Bahrain.
He said: "I look forward to more hard work with the Lions, as well as to the start of the S.League where we can see our boys battle it out for a place in the national team."
The S.League will kick off on Feb 26 at the Singapore Sports Hub's National Stadium.