Singapore coach Bernd Stange has boldly claimed his side will be crowned champions of the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup.
A ball has yet to be kicked at Southeast Asia’s premier international tournament and Group B action only kicks off on Sunday, but already the German has declared the Lions will emerge victorious come December 20.
“We are going to win this tournament,” he said at Saturday’s pre-tournament press conference.
“There will be no excuses from us and we will not be saying that we are underdogs.
“We have a very balanced team with experienced players from the last Suzuki Cup-winning squad, a group of players in the 23 to 25 age bracket, as well as a couple of youngsters.
“Now we have to perform but we will also have the advantage of 40,000 fans supporting us.”
Singapore face arguably their toughest test on the opening day against Thailand, who are widely regarded as favourites for the tournament.
Nonetheless, Stange insists his side will show no fear coming up against a Thai team who are largely made up from the squad that won last year’s Southeast Asian Games, as well as finished fourth at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon.
“Their results have been amazing – they are a young team and I rate them very highly,” he added.
“But we’re not afraid. It’s a tournament and nobody should be afraid.
“Even if we rate our opponents very highly, it doesn’t mean anything – we start a 0-0 and after losing to them at last year’s SEA Games, maybe this time we can exact our revenge.”
Thailand assistant coach Klairung Treejaksung, who attended the press conference of Kiatisuk Senamuang, insists his charges will not have any complacency heading into the tournament.
“This current Thailand team has a lot of new blood and young players,” he said.
“We’ve been preparing this team for a long time at last year’s SEA Games and this year’s Asian Games.
“All the teams in this group are strong and we are aware that we have to be careful, but we certainly did not come here thinking we’ve already won.
“But in every game, we will just look to play our own and hopefully perform to the best of our abilities.”
Sunday’s clash at the National Stadium will also be a rematch of the 2012 final, which saw the Lions win a record fourth title following a 3-2 aggregate victory.