Tampines, Home players dominate Singapore squad for Afghanistan friendly ahead of AFC Asian Cup qualifiers

SIngapore face Afghanistan on Thursday before their first qualifying match against Bahrain on 28 March.

Khairul Amri
In-form Amri (R) key to Singapore's chances in AFC Asian Cup qualifying campaign Reuters

Seven members each from of S.League sides Tampines Rovers and Home United will be part of V Sundramoorthy's 23-man squad for the upcoming 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifying opener against Bahrain, scheduled for 28 March and the 51-year-old tactician will test his men against Afghanistan in a pre-tournament friendly in Doha on Thursday.

Four defenders - Daniel Bennett, Fahrudin Mustafic, Shakir Hamzah and Madhu Mohana, all of whom might feature in the playing XI, are from the Stags' unit while striker Khairul Amri should also get Sundram's nod after a strong start to the season along with midfielder Yasir Hanapi.

On the other hand, Home striker Faris Ramli, who is among the top-scores of the ongoing league with two goals will also eye for a start against Afghanistan. Sundram will also bank on vice-catpain Hariss Harun, who recently joined the Protectors on loan after a failed move to Spain. Along with him, Izzdin Shafiq and Safuwan Baharudin are expected to fight for first-team spots.

Also read: Sundram banks on defence to upset the odds in qualifying campaign

Home's custodian Hassan Sunny will be the first-choice goalkeeper ahead of Tampines' Izwan Mahbud as the former has been in fine form in both the league as well as AFC Cup assignments with Aidil Sharin's men. Meanwhile, 19-year-old defender Irfan Fandi, who has been impressive early in the season, is likely to play a key role as well in the absence of veteran Baihakki Khaizan.

Sundram will want to get back to winning ways especially after earning the trust of Football Association of Singapore (FAS), who have extended his contract for two more years. Notably, under him, the Lions faced an early exit from last year's AFF Suzuki Cup.

The campaign in Philippines was one of their worst Suzuki Cup performances as the four-time champions were knocked out with just a point and without a win. However, with a strong squad under his disposal and a stern pre-tournament test against higher-ranked Afghanistan, Sundram believes his men can deliver the right results.

Apart from Bahrain, Singapore also face Chinese Taipei and Turkmenistan in a double-legged round robin format in the qualifying tournament.

"This is a balanced squad – with a good mix of experience and youth. We are preparing well and are determined to do our best to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup 2019," Sundram had spoken of the squad, as quoted by FAS' official website.

"We are all looking forward to beginning this final qualification round for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. Bahrain will be favourites, but we are able to compete with them. The friendly against Afghanistan, who have players in European leagues, will be excellent preparation for the team."

Singapore squad [for matches against Afghanistan and Bahrain]

PlayerLeague Team
Hassan SunnyHome United
Izwan MahbudTampines Rovers
Zaiful NizamBalestier Khalsa
Daniel BennettTampines Rovers
Ho Wai LoonWarriors FC
Irfan FandiHome United
Juma'at JantanHome United
Madhu MohanaTampines Rovers
Faritz Abdul HameedGeylang International
Hafiz SujadBig Bang Chula United
Nazrul Ahmad NazariHougang United
Shakir HamzahTampines Rovers
Fahrudin MustaficTampines Rovers
Safirul SulaimanGeylang International
Anumanthan MohanHougang United
Hariss HarunHome United
Faris RamliHome United
Izzdin ShafiqHome United
Safuwan BaharudinPDRM
Shawal AnuarGeylang International
Yasir HanapiTampines Rovers
Khairul AmriTampines Rovers
Shahril IshakWarriors FC
Khairul NizamHome United

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