Singapore and Japan to swap fixtures for World Cup qualifiers

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Singapore and Japan have agreed to switch venues for their World Cup qualifiers on 16 June and 12 November, after a scheduling clash with the Southeast Asian Games.

The Lions had been drawn to face Japan at home in June, but the National Stadium was already booked to host the closing ceremony for the Games.

They will now face off first at Saitama Stadium 2002, with the return fixture in November to be played in Singapore.

“We would like to thank FIFA, the AFC and JFA for understanding our circumstances with regard to the 16 June World Cup qualifying game, and agreeing to our request to play the match in Japan," FAS President Zainudin Nordin said.

“We look forward to hosting Japan on 12 November. It will be a major treat for all Singapore and Japan fans, and we are confident it will draw a strong crowd.”

The fixture change means that Singapore's first two games will be on the road, with the Lions beginning qualifying in Cambodia on 11 June.

Singapore face a tough battle to get out of Group E and into the third round of qualifying, with Asian football juggernauts Japan being joined by Cambodia, Afghanistan and Syria as the Lions opponents.

The World Cup qualifiers will also serve as preliminary qualifiers for the 2019 Asian Cup finals, which Singapore are also bidding to reach for the first time.