SINGAPORE - With 20 days to go before the start of Singapore's Suzuki Cup campaign, national captain Shahril Ishak has called on his team to put behind an indifferent year and do the nation proud come the opening fixture against Thailand on Nov 23.
The national team have only one win from six international matches this year - a 2-1 triumph over Papua New Guinea - and have one final warm-up against Bahrain on Nov 8 to iron out any kinks before beginning their title defence.
Speaking at a Nike press event on Monday afternoon to launch the new national team jersey, Shahril said: "It's going to be tough, but I believe, with the group of players we have, a good mix of experienced and young players, we can achieve something at the Suzuki Cup.
"As captain I will do my best to lead by example on the pitch. Of course we hope the fans will come down to support and motivate us."
The Lions are also in a tough group with Thailand, Malaysia, and Myanmar.
Thailand, under former S-League star Kiatisuk Senamuang, exceeded expectations when they reached the semi-final of the Incheon Asian Games, where they lost to 0-2 to host and eventual winners South Korea.
Myanmar are led by ex-Lions trainer Raddy Avramovic, who guided Singapore to three of its four Asean titles since taking over in 2003. Causeway rivals Malaysia are also no slouches, and are ranked five spots above Singapore in Fifa's world rankings.
The national team will don new kit when they take to the pitch at the National Stadium, and will hope it can herald a new era of success under coach Bernd Stange.
Since Nike started manufacturing jerseys for the national team in 2007, the team has gone on to win two Suzuki Cup titles (2007, 2012). The new jersey, which cost $99, is available from Nov 6 at Nike outlets in Shaw House, Paragon, and Ngee Ann City.