Coach Tatsuma Yoshida recalls veteran defender Baihakki Khaizan for World Cup qualifiers

Veteran Singapore international defender Baihakki Khaizan has been recalled by national coach Tatsuma Yoshida for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Yemen and Palestine. (PHOTO: Action Images/Jeremy Lee/Reuters)

SINGAPORE — Singapore national football team coach Tatsuma Yoshida has recalled veteran defender Baihakki Khaizan, and given three players their maiden call-ups to his 23-strong squad for next month’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

The Lions will face Yemen (5 September) and Palestine (10 September) at home in their first matches in Group D of the second round of the Asian Zone World Cup qualifiers. The other teams in the group are Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.

This will be Yoshida’s first competitive match in charge since he took over the reins of the senior team in May.

Travelling to assess performances

The Japanese has travelled frequently to regional countries to assess the key Singapore players’ club performances.

During one of his trips to Thailand, he managed to convince 35-year-old Baihakki, who has been capped 134 times and is currently playing for Thai club Trat FC, to come out of his international retirement in March to be included in the senior squad again.

“I have been keeping tabs on the progress of our players, both in the Singapore Premier League and abroad, over the past three months and all of the players in this squad are here on merit as they have performed well for their clubs,” Yoshida said in a media release on Tuesday (27 August).

“I am confident of this squad’s abilities and we are going into the games with a positive mindset. I feel relaxed and am looking forward to the final phase of preparations as we target victory at home.”

The players called up to the senior squad for the first time are Young Lions goalkeeper Zharfan Rohaizad, Geylang International defender Darren Teh and Balestier Khalsa forward Hazzuwan Halim.

Also for 2023 Asian Cup qualification

The Asian Zone World Cup qualifiers will also serve as a qualification round for the 2023 Asian Cup in China.

The eight group winners and the four best runners-up of the groups will qualify for the Asian Cup as well as advance to the third round of the World Cup qualifiers.

The four worst runners-up, the eight third-placed teams, and the four best fourth-placed teams will advance to the next round of Asian Cup qualifiers.

The Lions will begin centralised training on Monday, and will kick off their campaign against Yemen at the National Stadium, before facing Palestine five days later at Jalan Besar Stadium.

Tickets for the two World Cup qualifying matches are on sale at the Football Association of Singapore website.

The Lions squad for next month’s World Cup qualifiers:

  • Goalkeepers: Hassan Sunny, Izwan Mahbud, Zharfan Rohaizad.

  • Defenders: Amirul Adli, Baihakki Khaizan, Darren Teh, Irfan Fandi, Irwan Shah, Nazrul Nazari, Safuwan Baharudin, Shakir Hamzah, Zulqarnean Suzliman.

  • Midfielders: Hami Syahin, Hariss Harun, Shahdan Sulaiman, Yasir Hanapi.

  • Forwards: Faris Ramli, Gabriel Quak, Hafiz Nor, Hazzuwan Halim, Ikhsan Fandi, Khairul Amri, Shawal Anuar.

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