Football: Bernd Stange relishing Syria challenge for bottom-placed Lions

Singapore's football coach Bernd Stange (second from right) shakes hands with Syria's national team head coach Anas Makhlouf (second from left) while Syrian team captain Malki Sanhareb (left) and Singaporean team captain Shahril Ishak
Singapore's football coach Bernd Stange (second from right) shakes hands with Syria's national team head coach Anas Makhlouf (second from left) while Syrian team captain Malki Sanhareb (left) and Singaporean team captain Shahril Ishak (right) look on during the AFC Asian Cup qualifier pre-match press conference in Singapore on Monday, Oct 14, 2013. The match between Singapore and Syria will be held on Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013, in Singapore. -- PHOTO: AFP

Back-to-back defeats by Jordan and Oman have left Singapore bottom of Group A in the race to qualify for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.

But national football coach Bernd Stange is relishing what he believes to be "a good test" for his side when they take on Syria at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday evening.

"We rate Syria very highly," the German said of the visitors, who are ranked 143rd in the world - 16 spots above the Lions. "It will be a difficult task for us - a good test of our improvement."

Since taking over from Raddy Avramovic in May, Stange has led Singapore to three wins and three losses in his opening six matches.

His Syrian counterpart Anas Makhlouf, meanwhile, is hoping to emulate group rivals Jordan and Oman, who have both defeated the Lions 4-0 and 2-0 respectively.

"We want to qualify for the Asian Cup," stressed the coach, whose side are third in the group with just one point from a possible six. "And we hope to start from here."

Singapore skipper Shahril Ishak, who has been recovering from a partial tear in his left gluteus muscle, will start against Syria. The match will kick-off at 7.45pm.