After losing the first two matches of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, the Lions face a likely do-or-die mission against Jordan at Jalan Besar Stadium on 11 Oct.
With only two teams qualifying to the Fourth Round of the Qualifiers, things certainly do not look rosy as Singapore currently languishes at the bottom of Group A. However, three points against the Jordanians here can throw the group wide open and rejuvenate the qualification campaign.
Jordan, however, will definitely be no pushover.
The Middle-Eastern side has certainly exceeded all expectations thus far. They opened their campaign with an impressive away win in Iraq before recording a 2-1 win over Group favourites China at home. With maximum points, only Australia share this perfect record after two games at this stage throughout Asia.
Singapore will find Jordan familiar, having last met home and away for the 2011 Asian Cup qualifiers. Jordan eventually finished above the Lions and went on to reach the quarter-finals of the competition proper in Qatar.
In terms of FIFA ranking, Jordan have improved leaps and bounds since beating Singapore back in Amman in January 2010. Interestingly, a single ranking separate the sides then, but according to the latest FIFA rankings, the Jordanians now rank a staggering 51 places above the Lions.
The success of the current senior squad is built around their U20 squad, which qualified for the FIFA U20 World Cup back in 2007. That particular Jordan team had defied all odds to qualify for the Youth World Cup ahead of established sides like Australia and Saudi Arabia.
Jordan is renowned to be a team that is very well organised defensively and capable of springing counter-attacks. Playing away from home, they can be expected to do much of the same.
Forced and Welcomed Changes
Lions coach Raddy Avramovic will be forced to make at least two changes to his first eleven that started against Iraq a month ago.
Midfield hard man Mustafic Fahrudin is suspended for this fixture while striker Qiu Li is unlikely to return to full fitness in time.
The great news in the camp is of course the return to action of 20-year-old Hariss Harun. Hariss was kept out of the first two qualifiers due to National Service, but will be available for selection for this tie. His match fitness, though, will be in question.
Isa Halim debutised admirably for Hariss in the latter’s absence and with Mustafic not available, Avramovic can opt to play both Isa and Hariss as holding midfielders. Shi Jiayi, who did not start against Iraq, is likely to be drafted back to the first eleven after making some impact after his introduction in that particular match.
Defensive errors almost certainly cost Singapore in the last fixture against Iraq, but in all honesty, very little were created upfront. In the second half of that match, the Lions ran out of ideas and were reduced to trying hit long and aimless passes to Alesander Duric. Duric is exceptional at holding play up, but without quality delivery and support, there is very little for the 41-year-old to work with. For 90 minutes against the Iraqis, Duric was an isolated figure.
It will be interestingly how Raddy will line the boys up here, given that a draw may not even be enough to keep the chances of qualification alive.