Their cardiovascular pumps will have to work harder and faster, they will play in front of nearly 40,000 fanatical opponents on the terraces, against a team desperate not to be humiliated by a side representing a nation that is only a dot on the world map.
Newly-tutored by former Spain manager Jose Camacho, China will be confident of beating Singapore in Kunming on Friday night in the opening Group A clash of Asia’s third round World Cup qualifiers.
The Lions go into the game without one of their best players, young midfield strongman Hariss Harun. But, I know Radojko Avramovic feels his men can still return from China on Saturday with at least a draw, and possibly even a win.
Avramovic always goes into a game fearless and it is a trait adopted by all his teams. The Lions will know that this Chinese team are hardly good enough to rank among the best sides in Asia. They are also under pressure.
Confidence is in the Singapore camp after their crucial success of arch-rivals Malaysia, the reigning ASEAN champions. The defence is steady, with centre-backs Daniel Bennett and Safuwan Baharudin clicking well.
Whether it be Lionel Lewis or Izwan Mahbud in goal, the Lions will have a very good custodian behind them. With Hariss missing, the strength in depth of Avramovic’s squad will be tested and Isa Halim, the likely stand-in, must do his job alongside the impressive Mustafic Fahrudin.
If Singapore get that foundation humming, they have every chance of pulling off a great result to set themselves up nicely for Iraq next Tuesday. I am sure Shi Jiayi and Qiu Li will both want to turn in match-winning performances to show their former countrymen what they can do. The stage is set for them.
All week long, Avramovic’s players have been saying they do not fear China, even if some of their own fans here in Singapore have told me they have no chance. After talking, they need to do the business on the field, because Singapore will be glued to the “live” broadcast on Ch 5 (7.55pm).
If they roar as only Lions can, it could be a special Friday night for Singapore.