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Vital for Singapore to keep foot on pedal with AFF Suzuki Cup semis in sight

After winning their opening two matches against Myanmar and Philippines, Singapore could potentially seal a semifinal berth at AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 with a game to spare against Timor-Leste on Tuesday. Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

On paper, Tuesday's tie against Timor-Leste is the most straightforward of the four Group A ties that Singapore will play at AFF Suzuki Cup 2020.

But with a win potentially enough to seal a place in the semifinals for the tournament hosts, and with goal difference a chance to come into play when determining the two teams that advance to the last four, the Lions have vowed not to take the match lightly.

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The tournament hosts currently boast a perfect record at the competition having racked up impressive wins against Myanmar and Philippines, and are coming into the tie off an extended break as they sat out the action on Match Day 3.

Meanwhile, the Timorese's results have been befitting of their status as the lowest-ranked team at the Suzuki Cup, having fallen to three consecutive defeats and conceding 11 goals while scoring none in the process.

"We have to play our best even though Timor-Leste have lost three matches in a row," said Singapore coach Tatsuma Yoshida, when asked by ESPN if the game presented a chance to rotate his players.

"The next match will be their (Timor-Leste's) last of the tournament, so they will try to show what they can do. We have to be prepare well and be at full attention.

"We've made a good start to the tournament but we have to keep going. I don't want us to drop any of our momentum. Depending on the players' condition, I'll select our best to beat Timor-Leste."

In the event of a tie on points between teams, goal difference will come into play and it is third-placed Philippines who currently hold the advantage of having put seven goals past the Timorese on Saturday.

All that could be moot however, at least in terms of the group's top two advancing on, should both Singapore and joint-leaders Thailand -- who take on Philippines -- win their respective matches on Tuesday and earn a spot in the semis with a game to spare.

Perhaps of more value than just sealing their place in the last four for the first time since they last won the tournament in 2012, is the importance of maintaining the positivity that has returned to Singaporean football for the first time in a long while.

Having incurred the ire of fans in recent years for a playing a perceived brand of negative football, the Lions fans -- albeit in reduced numbers due to COVID-19 restrictions -- have returned to the National Stadium to cheer on the team in full voice.

And for these supporters, there is also the exciting prospect that there could be more to come.

"Of course, we're not yet playing at 100 per cent, even if the results have been perfect," added Yoshida, who did confirm that winger Gabriel Quak has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament due to surgery.

"There is the potential that we can be better. Right now, I would say perhaps we're at 70 or 80 per cent, so there is still room for improvement."