Singapore’s Lions have been dealt a double delight with the return of stalwarts Safuwan Baharudin and Ikhsan Fandi to the fold.
On 8 November, national coach Takayuki Nishigaya named his list of 24 for the opening two games of the second round of qualification for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027.
The Lions will be up against Asian giants Korea Republic, at the Seoul World Cup Stadium on Thursday 16 November 2023 at 7.00pm and will then host Asian Football Federation champions Thailand at the Singapore National Stadium on 21 November.
Centreback Safuwan was named in the squad after he was “cleared by the local medical team to play competitively after sustaining a concussion injury last year”, said the Football Association of Singapore in its statement.
Safuwan aside, the Lions will also welcome back striker Ikhsan to the fold.
He has been out of action for more than 10 months after suffering a knee injury during the international friendly against Maldives in December 2022 ahead of the ASEAN Football Federation Mitsubishi Electric Cup.
Nishigaya, whose future in Singapore is still under a cloud of uncertainty said, “We missed having Ikhsan upfront during the Round 1 qualifying games hence it is a major boost to have him back in the team again, but we will need to be cautious by easing him back into the team.
“Safuwan is a seasoned veteran and having him back in defence along with Irfan, their combined years of international experience will prove to be useful.”
Other players also called up include BG Pathum’s Irfan Fandi and Ryhan Stewart.
“Our opponents in Round 2 are of a higher level than us and we will need to fight together as a team more than ever before if we are to get a positive result against them,” said the Japanese.
“However, we must play without fear regardless of the opponent that stands before us.”
A full list of the players called up was posted by the FAS on its socials.
The Lions will begin reporting for centralised training on 10 November.
MAIN PHOTOS: SAFUWAN BAHARUDIN IG / IKHSAN FANDI IG