Singapore were handed the easier of two groups in the football draw for the 2017 SEA Games in August, having avoided the likes of Vietnam and defending champion Thailand.
Singapore’s national under-23 team was drawn into Group A with hosts Malaysia, 2015 runners-up Myanmar, Laos and Brunei. The draw was conducted in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday (8 July).
2015 champions Thailand and 2015 second runners-up Vietnam were drawn into Group B alongside Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Philippines. Philippines is the highest-ranked Southeast Asia nation in the FIFA rankings.
The draw also means that Singapore will play just four games in 11 days in the preliminary stages of the competition, compared to five in 13 days for the six-team Group B.
Only Myanmar and Malaysia from Group A are expected to challenge Singapore for a spot in the last four.
It is also worth nothing that of the teams in Group A, only Myanmar progressed beyond the group stages in 2015. Singapore were also grouped with Myanmar then.
Commenting on the draw, Singapore SEA Games coach Richard Tardy, refused to acknowledge that it was a good draw.
“I think a draw is a draw. It’s a competition and you can’t have a better draw,” Tardy said during the pre-match press conference on Saturday ahead of the friendly games between Singapore and India’s under-23 teams.
“We don’t know what will happen during the competition,” he said.
However, he did say that the draw gave him more confidence.
“We are perhaps more confident after the draw, than before the draw,” said Tardy.
Interestingly, both Myanmar and Brunei are grouped together with Singapore for the AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers that will be played in Yangon, Myanmar, from 19-23 July.
Tardy said that the qualifiers would give him “a good picture” of where they stand for the SEA Games.