The good news is it will cost fans $2 less to watch a Lions match at the National Stadium compared to March 2022 when Singapore faced off against Malaysia and Philippines at the Tri Nations Series.
The bad news is, the Singapore Lions will be playing against sides from Oceania – Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Solomon Islands – which Singapore football fans do not really recognise or appreciate.
There will be no Lionel Messi.
No Brandon Gan.
No Asnawi Mangkualam (photo below).
No Chanathip Songkrasin.
On 29 May, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced that the two matches will be played at the National Stadium, the first time the Lions will return to their national home ground since March 2022, when Singapore hosted the Tri Nations Series.
National coach Takayuki Nishigaya’s (photo below) men will take on PNG on 15 June and then face off against Solomon Islands three days later at the same venue.
“Similar to the last March friendly matches, these two games are vital to further assess players at the international stage, as we continue our preparations for the National Team towards the World Cup Qualifiers in October,” he said.
“In our analysis prior to selecting these teams, we determined both opponents will provide the kind of challenges we would like in order to expose our players to a higher level of physical and aggressive competition.
“In addition, vital ranking points are also up for grabs and I am sure the boys will be determined to put out their best.”
Nishigaya also then pointed out that the team will be playing at the National Stadium, “and that in itself should be one of the motivating factors for the players to go all out.”
He added that “we want to be a team that the fans and country are proud of, and we have to show that in every match we play.”
But reactions to the announcement by the national football body do not appear to have struck a chord among Lions fans, with comments mostly denigrating Singapore’s choice of opponents.
PNG are just one rung lower than the Lions in the FIFA ranking at 159, while the Solomon Islands are ranked much higher at 134.
Tickets for Singapore’s matches will go on sale on Thursday, 1 June.
All eyes will now be on Nishigaya as he prepares to announce his team for the set of friendlies.
MAIN PHOTO: FOOTBALLARROYO.COM