SINGAPORE- They showed off captain marvel Hariss Harun, boasted one of the best centre backs in the region in Safuwan Baharudin, and had talented goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud as the last line of defence.
Their target for this South-east Asia (SEA) Games was a place in the final.
Many in the local fraternity felt they were even good enough to win Singapore's first gold medal in men's football at the Games.
After an insipid performance against Laos in their opening Group A encounter last night at the Zayar Thiri Stadium in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, Aide Iskandar's men are in trouble.
The U-23s could only come away with a 1-1 draw despite playing almost the entire match with a one-man advantage, after Saison Khounsamnan was sent off for a high challenge on Shahfiq Ghani after just 90 seconds.
"We let ourselves down," admitted coach Aide Iskandar, after the game. "We should have defended the set-piece better and we didn't deserve to win."
When Sahil Suhaimi fired in a lovely left-footed effort in the 27th-minute, after expertly being put through by Shahfiq, it looked like the perfect springboard for the Singapore side to go on and post a confidence-boosting win, especially after group rivals Vietnam had sounded out a warning with a 7-0 thumping of Brunei earlier.