Hosts Singapore will be looking to maintain top spot in Group A as they prepare to meet a Philippines side that are making their 2020 AFF Suzuki Cup debut on Wednesday.

The Lions made an impressive start with a 3-0 win over Myanmar but coach Tatsuma Yoshida knows that it’s important to build on the three points with another victory in front of their home supporters.

“For sure it was important to get three points in the first match and this is another important challenge as we are fighting to reach the next stage but we know the quality, especially the physical quality, of the Philippines is high," said the Japanese tactician. 

“We want to make a new era for Singaporean football, we’re a challenger for sure and the aim of this team should always be to at least reach the semi-finals although we know that this will be a difficult match.”

For the Azkals it’s been a stilted preparation with as many as 25 players that would have been in the selection mix unavailable for the tournament, but new coach Stewart Hall isn’t using that as an excuse.

“I’ve never been the kind of coach to focus on players that aren’t here but rather approach things thinking this is an opportunity for the younger players to force their way into the side and the older players to show that they also deserve to be here," said Hall. 

“Having said that I’d like more bodies because I don’t want to do 11 versus 11 in training with the goalkeeper at right-back, we almost had to use the kitman yesterday just to fill out those numbers.”

Hall also confirmed that Japan-based defender Jefferson Tabinas won’t be travelling to Singapore whilst others, including Iain Ramsey, also won’t arrive in time for their first match.

The English coach also touched on some suggestions that his team enter as underdogs with limited expectations back home.

“I heard those suggestions and I found them quite strange but I spoke with the players and if others think they’re just here to make up the numbers we’ll use that as motivation because I can tell you we’re not here as tourists.”