Football: Suited-up Lions upbeat on uphill task to advance from Suzuki Cup group stage

SINGAPORE - Things might not bode well on the pitch for the Singapore national football team, but they could not look sharper off it.

The Lions, who ended a six-match winless run with a 1-0 win over Cambodia on Sunday, took centre stage at Changi Airport on Tuesday evening in their tailored two-piece suits and matching light blue shirts.

The team are headed for the Philippines, who are co-hosting the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup. It is the first time the national team have left for the biennial meet in suits, with a Singapore jacket their usual get-up.

The Lions take on the co-hosts in Manila on Saturday (Nov 19) and the odds are against them qualifying from a group that also includes defending champions Thailand and unpredictable rivals Indonesia.

As improbable it may seem for them to achieve caretaker coach V. Sundramoorthy's goal of reaching the semi-finals, the players remain defiant.

Fahrudin Mustafic, who has won the tournament twice, said: "We know we can do better, but the win against Cambodia will give the team confidence. We have some senior players here, which will help. People say we are underdogs but let's see."

Team-mate Daniel Bennett, a three-time AFF Cup winner, added: "This is a group where every team has a chance to qualify. You can't say for sure."

The team play Thailand next Tuesday (Nov 22) before wrapping up the group stage against Indonesia three days later (Nov 25).