2016 AFF Suzuki Cup: 'Underdogs' Singapore play game of low expectations

Singapore will face co-hosts Phillipines in the opening encounter on 19 November.

Daniel Bennett
Singapore will bank on Bennett's presence at the back at Suzuki Cup Reuters

Veteran Singapore central defender Daniel Bennett said the Lions are not looking too much into their opponents but are focused on reaching the semi-final of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup.

Drawn in Group A, Singapore will kickstart their campaign against Philippines on 19 November at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan. They will also face Thailand and Indonesia in the remaining matches of the group stages.

While Philippines are the highest-ranked Asean team at 124, defending champions Thailand are ranked 146, 25 places above Singapore who slipped to their lowest-ever Fifa rankings in October.

Recent results have not gone the Lions' way. In their last eight matches, V Sundramoothy's side has won only two games and have scored only four goals, which has been an area of concern.

Their last win came against Cambodia on 13 November, when they scraped through to a 1-0 win at the Bishan Stadium in their last Suzuki Cup warm-up match.

The four-time winners also lost to Syria 2-0 on 9 November right after they finished their five-day training camp in Qatar.

While little is expected from the Lions after their recent disappointing results, 38-year-old Bennett, who has won the Suzuki Cup three times, believes his team can emerge successful again this year.

"Every time we have been in the tournament, we have always been the underdog and nobody really gives us a chance. But when it comes to playing in the tournament, it is a totally different ball game," Bennett said, as quoted by TodayOnline.

"It does not matter which team is in our group. We will just remain focused on each and every game, because once you're past the group stages, there is a good chance that you can win the tournament.

"We know the hardest part is always progressing past the group stage."

While Sundram has set a target of reaching the semi-final notwithstanding recent results, goalkeeper Hassan Sunny believes that they have enough time to get used to the conditions and perform well in Philippines after reaching Manila as early as Tuesday.

The Army United custodian said the boys in the camp were willing to put in their best against "difficult teams."

"I believe we are one of the first teams to arrive in Manila, which is good because we will get a bit more time to prepare ourselves over there in terms of weather, food and environment," Sunny said.

"This shows you how seriously everyone is taking this and everyone is looking forward to playing in the tournament. We have to get ourselves ready in all aspects because we will be playing three difficult teams, but we are confident."