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MD1 Preview - Group D: Tough tests await hopefuls


Kuala Lumpur: Singapore are the odd ones out in Group D of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 which kicks off on Thursday.

Palestine, Uzbekistan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia were all part of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Finals, promising a highly competitive and exciting Group D.

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PALESTINE vs UZBEKISTAN

Palestine's second successive appearance at the AFC Asian Cup Finals ended in the group stage and the West Asians will be aiming to be third time lucky in China 2023.

The road, ahead, however, is paved with challenges and Palestine will need to make their home ground advantage count when they open against Uzbekistan at the West Bank's Faisal Al Husseini Stadium.

Matchday One - Group D

Palestine will head into the Asian Qualifiers following a relatively successful 2019 WAFF Championship campaign where Noureddine Ould Ali's team finished second behind Iraq in Group A.

Although they failed to advance to the final, Palestine ended their campaign with wins over Yemen and Syria, a draw with Lebanon and narrow 2-1 loss to eventual runners-up Iraq.

 

It is the kind of form they will need in a tough Group D but Algerian Ould Ali will be confident he has built a squad capable of sealing a place in the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 and possibly, a place in the next stage of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.


Uzbekistan will also be up to the task, having narrowly missed out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup and suffering a heartbreaking penalty shootout defeat to Australia in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.

Uzbekistan may be playing away but head coach Hector Cuper has targeted a winning start as three points will set his side up nicely for the challenges ahead.

PALESTINE vs UZBEKISTAN
Venue: Faisal Al Husseini Stadium, West Bank
Kick-off: 1700 hours (UTC +3)


SINGAPORE vs YEMEN

Singapore are desperate to turn their fortunes around while Yemen are determined to prove that they are a team on the rise - setting the stage for a cracking match at the National Stadium.

Singapore's first and only appearance in the AFC Asian Cup Finals was in 1984, when they hosted the Continental showpiece, and the Southeast Asians are desperate to claim their place alongside Asia's elite.

Their four triumphs in the regional AFF Cup have not been translated into success on the Asian stage and head coach Tatsuma Yoshida of Japan has been given the task of making Singapore into challengers and more.

A tough group means its going to be a steep learning curve for The Lions but with the Asian game progressing rapidly, they will have to rise to the challenge.

 

And Yemen will be a challenge as the West Asians start their campaign to qualify for their second successive AFC Asian Cup and possibly a tilt at Qatar 2022 qualification.

Yemen's first appearance at the AFC Asian Cup as a unified nation ended in the group stage at UAE 2019, with the West Asians losing all three matches but their recent form has been promising.

Head coach Sami Hasan Al Nash's men suffered narrow defeats to Iraq and Palestine in the 2019 WAFF Championship but defeated Lebanon 2-1 and drew 1-1 with Syria.

With valuable competitive exposure under their belts, Yemen will target three points against Singapore.

SINGAPORE vs YEMEN
Venue: National Stadium, Singapore
Kick-off: 1945 hours (UTC +8)

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