Lions energised by Cup tonic


IT HAS been less than a month since the LionsXII triumphed in the Malaysian FA Cup final and it is precisely that winning feeling that national team coach Bernd Stange hopes will rub off on the rest of his players.

Tonight, the German will find out if his Lions are in form when Singapore kick off their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, which also doubles as the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers, against Cambodia at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.

"The FA Cup win was the best boost," said Stange, who has called up 11 players from the LionsXII.

"It is excellent for us because the confidence is rising and we have a taste of winning which is very important."

With the exception of Faris Ramli, who is at the SEA Games with the Singapore Under-23s, the 10 other players who started in the 3-1 win over Kelantan in the Malaysian FA Cup final are in the squad to face Cambodia.

Since that victory, the Lions have posted victories in two international friendlies leading up to today's match.

Stange's charges beat Bangladesh 2-1 in Dhaka before thumping Brunei 5-1 at the Jurong East Stadium on Saturday.

Singapore, ranked 154th by Fifa, are 24 places above Cambodia (178th). And the Lions will also be boosted by the fact that the Angkor Warriors will be forced to field a depleted side.

Their best players, Prak Mony Udom, Keo Sokngon and Chan Vathanaka, are all playing at the SEA Games.

The Lions are in Group E with Asian powerhouses Japan, Syria, Afghanistan and Cambodia, with only the top two qualifying for the third round of qualification.

Stange believes that only a win will do against Cambodia, with a trip to Japan awaiting his men in their next game on Tuesday.

"The players have promised to do everything against Cambodia," said the 67-year-old.

"We cannot fail against Cambodia and Afghanistan. It is a battle between us and Syria to finish second so we must win those matches against them.

"I am absolutely confident (of a win)."

This article was first published on June 11, 2015.
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