Singapore vs Myanmar: Lions gear up for their next Asian Cup qualifying test
Familiar foes face off ahead of the resumption of their qualifying campaigns.
Last time out, Singapore earned a gritty 0-0 away draw against Bahrain to get their Asian Cup 2019 qualifying campaign off to a good start.
- Bahrain 0-0 Singapore (ACQ)
- Afghanistan 2-1 Singapore (Friendly)
- Singapore 1-2 Indonesia (Suzuki Cup)
- Thailand 1-0 Singapore (Suzuki Cup)
- Philippines 0-0 Singapore (Suzuki Cup)
It is imperative the Lions build on that impressive result as they bid to qualify for the 24-team continental competition for the first time, having hosted the event in 1984.
To gear up for an important home fixture against Taiwan on June 10, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) have lined up a closed-door friendly against Myanmar.
Just like Singapore, the White Angels are also in the final round of qualifying for the Asian Cup, but started off with a disappointing 1-0 loss at home to India.
They will surely be using this opportunity to fine-tune their tactics before they tackle Macau in an away fixture on June 13.
These teams should be familiar with each other, having faced off twice in 2016 – with Singapore prevailing on both occasions, 2-1 and 1-0.
Can the Lions extend their winning streak or will it be third time lucky for Myanmar?
Singapore have named a provisional 28-man squad, which is set to be trimmed to 23. There weren’t many surprises, although Garena Young Lions duo Hami Syahin and Muhaimin Suhaimi were handed their first call-ups.
- Myanmar 0-1 India (ACQ)
- Indonesia 1-3 Myanmar (Friendly)
- Thailand 4-0 Myanmar (Suzuki Cup)
- Myanmar 0-2 Thailand (Suzuki Cup)
- Myanmar 1-0 Malaysia (Suzuki Cup)
Hami is the youngest member of the squad at just 18 years old, while Tampines Rovers’ veteran defender Daniel Bennett is the oldest at 39.
Myanmar have called up 22 players – including three uncapped defenders in Htike Htike Aung, Zin Phyo Aung and Tluanghup Thang.
Nine of them are below the age of 23, while the oldest member of the squad is 30-year-old goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Htet.
There is plenty of attacking talent within their ranks, with Kyaw Ko Ko, Aung Thu and Suan Lam Mang to name a few.
Key Battle: Irfan Fandi vs Kyaw Ko Ko
Shining as a centre-back for his club Home United this season, as well as for his country in the goalless draw against Bahrain, Irfan is set to be retained alongside Daniel Bennett in front of goalkeeper Hassan Sunny.
His towering presence will be crucial against opposing attacker Ko Ko.
Previously dropped from the squad and labelled a “virus” by his coach for his apparent bad attitude, the 24-year-old is back from international exile and scored in a 3-1 friendly win against Indonesia in March.
His control in tight situations and ruthless finishing will pose a big threat to Singapore's backline.
LAST 5 MEETINGS
- Myanmar 0-1 Singapore (Friendly, Jun ’16)
- Singapore 2-1 Myanmar (Friendly, Mar ’16)
- Myanmar 2-4 Singapore (Suzuki Cup, Nov ’14)
- Myanmar 0-2 Singapore (Friendly, Jun ’13)
- Myanmar 1-1 Singapore (Friendly, Sep ’12)
As seen by dropping Ko Ko in the past, Myanmar's Gerd Ziese demands the best from his players and does not base his selections on reputation.
Having led the White Angels to the AFF Suzuki Cup semi-finals in 2016, the 64-year-old German now wants to go one step further by qualifying for the Asian Cup.
Meanwhile Singapore's V. Sundramoorthy places a strong emphasis on organisation and discipline – a style that has brought mixed success so far.
Having been handed a two-year contract extension three months ago, the 51-year-old local will be looking to deliver better results to repay FAS' faith.
Facts and Figures
- These sides last met in June 2016, with Singapore prevailing 1-0 to give Sundram the perfect start to his Lions coaching reign.
- Singapore have dropped nine places in the FIFA ranks since then – from 148th to 157th – while Myanmar rose from 167th to 163rd.
- Singapore have never lost to Myanmar, winning six times and drawing once from seven previous meetings.
We could well see goals in this one. Singapore to edge it 3-2 in an entertaining game.
Photos: Football Association of Singapore unless stated