Singapore have to overcome a China-sized obstacle along with Iraq and Palestine to achieve landmark qualification for the Asian Cup.
The draw for the 2007 Asian Cup held on Wednesday afternoon at the Asian Football Confederation House in Kuala Lumpur pitted the Lions in Group E, along with the three opponents mentioned above.
“There are a lot of good teams in Asia and this is a good opportunity for our players to prove themselves against some of them," said Singapore coach Radojko Avramovic.
"We had a good year in 2005 and now it’s a chance to see where we stand.”
Avramovic's team are gunning to qualify for the Asian Cup for the first time. Singapore played in the Asian Cup for the first and only time in 1984, when the island nation hosted the tournament.
To qualify, the Lions will have to ease past two teams ranked higher in the FIFA World Rankings in Iraq (ranked 54th) and China (ranked 72nd), as well as the unknown quality of Palestine.
Singapore, the reigning Tiger Cup champions, are 92nd on the ladder.
Lions captain Aide Iskandar is looking to his team to raise their game ahead of the qualifiers scheduled to begin February 22 with a home tie against Iraq.
"On paper it is a tough draw. But nothing is impossible, we are up for it and we are looking forward to the games," said the skipper.
"China are the favourites, so it looks like a fight between us, Iraq and Palestine for the other qualifying place.
"We have showed previously that we won't be overawed by the big teams," added Aide, referring to the Lions' two ties against Japan in the World Cup qualifiers last year.
"Everybody said that we would get hammered by five or six. But we gave them a good fight and it was 2-1 here in Singapore and 1-0 in Japan.
"The right preparations are crucial for these big games. Knowing our coach Raddy, I'm sure he will prepare us thoroughly for each game.
"I will be telling the boys the same thing I told them during the Tiger Cup. It's important that we take it one game at a time and focus on the next game."
Another experienced head in the Lions squad, midfielder Goh Tat Chuan, was also excited by the draw.
"China is a big team, Iraq is another good side and Palestine could have players from the South American leagues," said Tat Chuan.
"We are going to take this as a positive challenge and we need to raise our game to the next level to match them.
"The game against China, as well as the others against Iraq and Palestine, will draw good crowds I'm sure.
"We hope the Singapore fans will turn up and support us, and be the 12th man that helps us to the Asian Cup finals."
Singapore's Asian Cup qualifiers Group E fixtures:
22 February vs Iraq (H)
1 March vs Palestine (A)
16 August vs China (A)
6 September vs China (H)
11 October vs Iraq (A)
15 November vs Palestine (H)
Full draw and fixtures at www.the-afc.com