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Yoshida’s Singapore Lions ready to roar

Kuala Lumpur: Newly appointed Singapore head coach Tatsuma Yoshida is optimistic about his team’s chances in Round Two of the Asian Qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 despite being drawn in a tough group.

Singapore were drawn in Group D with Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Palestine and Yemen - who have all played in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.

The Lions, ranked 162 in the world, will face stiff competition in the qualifying campaign when they kick off against Yemen on September 5 and Palestine five days later.

Three-time AFC Asian Cup champions Saudi Arabia will be next on October 10 and Yoshida admitted Singapore face a huge challenge.

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“I think it is a very tough group. We respect all the teams in the group,” said the 45-year-old, the first Japanese to coach the Singapore national team.

The Chiba native signed a two-year deal with the Football Association of Singapore in May this year replacing V. Sundram Moorthy.

Yoshida however is no stranger to Singapore, having played for Jurong FC in 2002, before injury forced him to hang up his boots.

Despite the tough group, Yoshida is optimistic of Singapore’s chances as he believes the players have the potential to grow.

“They are all enjoying their football and would want to continue developing their football.”

The last time Singapore made an appearance in the AFC Asian Cup Finals was 35 years ago in 1984, during the time of Malek Awab, Razali Saad and David Lee, when they qualified automatically as hosts.

Singapore ended their campaign in the group stages with a win and a draw and will be aiming for a place in the Finals again in 2023.

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