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Lions’ avoid Asia’s Top Teams


Qiu Li (pictured) is looking forward to the clash with China. (Photo: SSC File) 

 

Singapore football is on a high after the Lions defeated causeway rival Malaysia last week to move on to the third round of the 2014 World Cup Asian Zone qualifiers.

 

Hopes of continuing the momentum were given a boost as the third round draw results saw Singapore going up against China, Iraq and Jordan in Group A, while avoiding Asia’s top guns South Korea, Japan and Australia.

 

The Lions are quietly confident of their chances as they aim to create history by progressing to the fourth round of the World Cup qualifiers for the first time.

 

It seems that our Lions may have gotten an easier draw compared to our Southeast Asian rivals as evergreen striker Aleksandar Duric said, “We avoided the big teams and should consider ourselves lucky, especially when you look at the other groups.”

 

Indonesia was drawn with Middle Eastern heavyweights Iran, Qatar and Bahrain in Group E. But it seems that Thailand has drawn the toughest of the lot as they prepare for games against Saudi Arabia, Oman and Asia’s No. 2 Australia.

 

It also helps that the Lions have played against their opponents in Group A before, playing China and Iraq in the 2007 Asian Cup qualifiers and Jordan in the recent 2011 edition.

 

Meanwhile, China-born forward Qiu Li has also gotten his wish of facing his country of birth as the Lions prepare for their opening game away to china on September 2.

 

“It’s really a dream come true for me,” said Qiu, who missed last year’s Asian games in Guangzhou due to an injury.

 

The third round of the FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifiers begins on 2 September 2011 and the final game will be played on 29 February 2012.

 

Singapore’s third round fixtures:

 

Sept 2 - China vs Singapore (away)

 

Sept 6 - Singapore vs Iraq (home)

 

Oct 11 - Singapore vs Jordan (home)

 

Nov 11 - Jordan vs Singapore (away)

 

Nov 15 - Singapore vs China (home)

 

Feb 29 - Iraq vs Singapore (away)