A strong continent from the Lion City Sailors Women’s Team have been selected to represent Lionesses at the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, from 5 to 17 May 2023, in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. 

The football competition at the biennial competition kicks off a week earlier. 

Singapore Women’s National Team and Sailors skipper Ernie Sulastri Sontaril, along with ten others – goalkeepers Noor Kusumawati and Beatrice Tan, defenders Khairunnisa Khairol Anwar, Fatin Aqillah, Syazwani Ruzi, Umairah Hamdan, midfielders Ho Hui Xin and Venetia Lim and forwards Nur Izzati Rosni and Lila Tan – make up part of the 20-strong squad that was confirmed by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) on Monday (24 April) evening. 

Hui Xin earns a recall to the team after missing the cut for the recent Women’s Olympic Tournament 2024 Asian Qualifiers – where the Lionesses lost 6-0 to Thailand and were held to a 2-2 draw by Mongolia – while Lila is set to make her SEA Games debut after missing last year’s delayed edition due to school examinations. 

Placed in Group B, the Lionesses will kick off their 2023 SEA Games campaign against five-time champions Thailand on Wednesday 3 May before facing Cambodia three days later. They will close their group stage campaign against Laos on 9 May. 

With Moroccan Karim Bencherifa at the helm of the Lionesses, Ernie is looking forward to building on last year’s encouraging campaign that saw the Singapore women beating Laos for their first SEA Games win in 37 years. 

“We feel very honoured to represent Singapore at the SEA Games for a second time. We have a good mix of experienced and young players, our team spirit is excellent, and we’ve been adapting well to our new coach’s tactical plans.

“There has been a lot of improvement in terms of our transition from defence to attack, and we’ve been working a lot on our fitness as well. We’re going into this year’s competition with a good mindset and we believe we can give a good account of ourselves again,” said the 34-year-old, who is Singapore’s most capped woman with 56 caps. 

“Our target is to reach the top four. Hopefully with this more favourable grouping, we can get out of our group and win a medal for Singapore.”