I was surfing The World Game recently for Barclay Premier League highlights when I noticed that the AFF Suzuki Cup is currently being held in Malaysia/Thailand. Two group matches have already been played and I quickly scourged the web to find out how Singapore has been doing in the competition.
My last memories of this competition were probably in 2004 (when it was still called the Tiger Cup back then) when Singapore beat the unsporting Indonesian team in both legs of the final to be crowned ASEAN champions for the 2nd time in the competition’s history.
The sweetest moment would have been in 1998 when Singapore, perceived as the dark horse of the competition, pipped host nation Vietnam in the final with a single goal to clinch Singapore’s first ever international trophy.
I could still remember that goal that won us the title like it was yesterday. Sasi Kumar’s bundled the ball into the Vietnamese goal with his shoulder in the 60th minute to clinch it for us.
The feeling of being champions in the region for the first time was indescribable and the closest high that we’ve experienced since the becoming Malaysian League and Cup double winners in 1994.
Singapore went on to win the competition for the third time in 2007.
It’s a pity that I do not recognize most of the Singaporean players in this year’s compeition as I’ve been following the Socceroos (Australian national football team) and A-League since moving to Melbourne. I do hope that Singapore do well in the competition and especially against Malaysia and Indonesia (personal vendetta haha!).
Malaysia vs Singapore
Singapore’s first match in Group B was against our traditional rivals across the causeway, Malaysia. It must have been a really tough match to play against the host nation in one of their biggest stadiums in Bukit Jalil seeing that the crowd was going nuts back the home team.
The Malaysians look like they were technically superior on the ball against the Singaporeans but struggled to deal with the physical aspects of the game.
And it wasn’t long before one of Singapore’s trademark long balls unlocked the Malaysian defence for captain Shahril Ishak to score the first goal. Ishak added a second later on in the first half before Duric secured a convincing win for Singapore with a header in the second.
Pretty good start for Singapore I would say.
Indonesia v Singapore
Singapore’s second group match was against Indonesia and I REALLY hoped Singapore gave Indonesia a good old fashion beating.
The Singaporean efforts were undone midway through the second half when Irwan Shah was dismissed for a second yellow card. It was the catalyst needed for the Indonesians to push forward and scored with a deep free kick, similar to the one Ronaldinho scored against England in the World Cup in 2002.
Singapore pushed on in the dying minutes and Duric hit the crossbar with a header before Khairul Amri’s appeal for a penalty after he was upended in the box was ignored by the referee.
Disappointing result as a win would have secure us top spot in the group stage and a guaranteed spot in the next round with a game to spare.
Indonesia tops Group B with 4 points, Singapore and Malaysia are level on 3 points and Laos is at the bottom of the group with 1.
Next Match: Laos v Singapore
Singapore would need to win against Laos in their final group game to advance to the knock out stages and I’m sure we can do well against the minnows seeing that we once beat them 11-0(Alam Shah scoring a record 7 goals in that game) in the same competition 5 years ago.
Come on Singapore!