Lions face tough 2022 World Cup qualifying group, drawn with Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Yemen and Palestine

Singapore nationl football head coach Tatsuma Yoshida with captain Hariss Harun. (PHOTO: PictoBank/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s national football team have been drawn into a tough group for their 2022 World Cup Finals qualifying campaign, facing three out of four teams whom they have never beaten before.

The Lions were drawn into Group D in the eight-group preliminary qualification Round Two at the Asian Football Confederation House in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday (17 July).

They will face five-time World Cup qualifiers Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Yemen and Palestine. The qualifying round begins on 5 September.

The Lions are the lowest-ranked team in the Fifa World Rankings among the five nations, at No. 162. Yemen are the next lowest-ranked team at No. 144, while the Saudis are the best ranked at No. 69.

The top teams in each group, plus the best four runners-up, will advance to Round Three of the World Cup qualifiers. They will also qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup, to be hosted by China.

The other four runners-up, eight third-placed teams, and best fourth-placed teams progress to the third round of Asian Cup qualifying. The remaining teams can still enter the Asian Cup via a play-off round for the final slots.

Singapore have traditionally found it tough going against the Middle East and Central Asian teams, whose players generally have a bigger physique and are technically superior to the Lions.

They have never beaten Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia, and have never faced Yemen before. They do have a positive record against Palestine with three wins, one draw and one loss, with their most recent encounter being a 4-0 Lions victory in Doha, Qatar, in 2007.

Singapore national coach Tatsuma Yoshida, who attended the ceremony with team manager Eric Ong, told the Football Association of Singapore website, “We have got a tough group, in particular being drawn against Uzbekistan, who are one of the strongest teams from Pot Two.

“It’s a big challenge for us but it’s one we are looking forward to and we hope to have Singapore fans join us on this journey.”

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