Singapore travel to Riffa for their AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers Group E opener against Bahrain on Tuesday (Wednesday morning, Singapore time).
The Lions began the year with a 2-1 defeat to Afghanistan in their pre-tournament friendly on Friday but they will take a lot of confidence from their inspired second-half performance in their first trip to the Middle East this year.
Singapore have been in the finals of AFC Asian Cup only once, in 1984 when they automatically qualified as hosts and they are yet to earn their qualification. Drawn in Group F along with higher-ranked teams - Bahrain (127), Turkmenistan (!44) and Chinese Taipei (159), Singapore (163) have another tough test ahead of them.
Having got a two-year contract extension, coach V Sundramoorthy will be expected to make amends for the team's disastrous AFF Suzuki Cup campaign last year. With more time in his hand now, the 51-year-old tactician has already made quite a few bold moves, replacing Tampines Rovers' pairing of Daniel Bennett and Madhu Mohana with Irfan Fandi and Safuwan Baharudin.
The move to bring in Home United's in-form striker Khairul Nizam almost paid off as he looked good to get the equaliser for the Lions. It will be interesting to see if Sundram sticks to the same tactics in his first big test of the new season.
A lot will also depend on seasoned campaigners Khairul Amri and Hariss Harun, to deliver the goods upfront for the visitors, against whom they lost 3-1 last year. On the other hand, focus will also be on Bahrain skipper Ismail Abdul Latif as the experienced forward is expected to do the damage and help the hosts open the account.
Possible XI: Khamis, Adnan, Omar, Hayam, Ali Pele, Dhiya, Nayem, Ali, Abdul Latif, Al Malood, Aswad
Possible XI: Sunny, Hamzah, Safuwan, Fandi, Jantan; Ramli, Izzdin, Harun, Hanapi; Amri, Nizam