Slim hopes but Lions not taking final Cup qualifier lightly

SINGAPORE - Qualification for next year's Asian Cup finals is only a faint mathematical possibility but the Singapore national football team want to end their campaign on a positive note against Oman.

Lions coach Bernd Stange has called up a 20-man squad who will play their final Group A qualifier against the table-toppers in Muscat next Wednesday.

The fixture will also provide a chance for the national team to reverse their two-game losing run.

They last tasted victory when they beat Syria 2-1 in October.

The win was swiftly followed by a 0-4 thrashing by the Syrians and a 1-3 loss to Jordan.

Itching to halt the losing streak is winger Gabriel Quak who said: "We don't know what kind of team Oman will field but we want to go there, get a win and end on a high.

"There is no point in playing well but not getting the result, like we did against Jordan.

"We hope we can bring some good news to our fans."

The Lions are bottom of Group A with three points after a run of five matches which yielded one win and four defeats.

Oman, meanwhile, have qualified for next year's finals in Australia, topping the group with 11 points.

Singapore could still qualify as the best third-placed side but the Lions need to overcome a 10-goal difference to overtake Iraq and hope that all the other third-placed teams lose their matches.

Stange said: "This is also a golden opportunity, especially for our younger players to gain invaluable experience playing against quality opponents, and this can only help to develop them both on the physical and mental fronts.

"All the players have to show that they deserve to represent Singapore."

Quak, who has two goals from five international appearances, believes the team will be fired up to nail down starting places even though this is essentially a dead rubber match.

The 23-year-old said: "We won't take it lightly.

"With the match against Malaysia at the Sports Hub coming up, as well as the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup, everyone will want to leave a good impression on coach Bernd."

siangyee@sph.com.sg

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.