With the 11th edition of the AFF Suzuki Cup now just around the corner, we reflect back on three of the most memorable fixtures the tournament has produced and also three of it’s most spectacular strikes.
The AFF Suzuki Cup is a tournament that has gone from strength to strength since it’s inauguration in 1996.
So much so in fact that FIFA have now officially acknowledged it as a Category A tournament and ranking points will be at stake in 2016 for the first time ever.
Major developments like that do not just happen for no good reason.
The high quality of the football on display and the sheer skill, flair and passion of many of the players has triggered considerable public interest in the AFF Suzuki Cup.
Here, we look back at some of the finest matches and goals of the event that put it on the map.
Senamuang slams Thailand to Cup glory (fast forward to 2:40)
In the final of the first ever AFF Championship in 1996, the legendary Kiatisuk Senamuang scored one of the most sublime goals of his sparkling career against Malaysia.
As if the strike, where he ducked in-field from the left-edge of the box to unleash a right-footed thunder-bolt was not special enough, it also proved to be the cup winning act.
And if that’s still not enough, then his flick-flack celebration surely made this one of the best AFF Championship moments of all time.
Indonesia 3 – 2 Vietnam (November 19, 2000, Thailand)
In the semi-finals of the third ever AFF Championship, Indonesia and Vietnam locked horns.
The latter entered the fixture desperate to make-up for the heartbreak they had suffered in 1996 and 1998 where they missed out in the semi-finals and final respectively.
However, it wasn’t to be as Indonesia piled further misery on Vietnam.
With 39 minutes on the clock, Indonesia’s Genduit Cristiawan took full advantage of Vietnam goalkeeper Ming Quang’s horrific misreading of a floated cross from the left flank as he simply nodded the ball into an empty net with the keeper seemingly swatting flies metres from the play.
Moments before half-time though and a lightning fast counter attack from Vietnam got them back into the game as Nguyen Hong Son added the finishing touches to a flowing move that Arsenal would have been proud of.
Nurdintara put Indonesia back in front after 75 minutes with a superbly controlled shot after the ball looped up having been slammed into the cross-bar by one of his teammates.
With their tournament seemingly over, Vietnam were so cruelly given hope in injury time as Cong Tuyen flicked the ball into the goal at the back-post.
Back then, the result had to be decided on the night and with penalties looming after 120 minutes of play, Cristiawan put an end to this epic encounter as he powered the ball into the roof of the net.
Indonesia progressed to the final but lost to eventual winners Thailand.
Chaiman charms against Myanmar (fast forward to 1:36)
Therdsak Chaiman bagged an absolute screamer in Thailand’s 1-1 draw with Myanmar in the group stages at the 2004 AFF Suzuki Championship.
Uncle Therd needed no touches at all as he pounced on a loose ball that must have been all of 35 yards from goal.
His right-footed rocket is still considered by many to be the purest strike of all time in the tournament’s history.
Indonesia 4 – 1 Malaysia (January 3, 2005, Malaysia)
Played in front of 80,000 people at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia seemed certain to advance to the final after winning the first leg 2-1 and scoring first in the second leg to hold all the cards with a 3-1 aggregate lead.
However, they were to be denied in the most dramatic fashion as Indonesia’s coach, Peter Withe, turned to super-sub, Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto, to swing the tie in their favour.
Just four minutes after being introduced, Kurniawan found himself on the end of a long ball and through on goal. His deadly finish from 15 yards got his side back in the tie.
In the 74th minute Charis Yulianto levelled matters when he steered in a header after being left totally unmarked from a corner, and just four minutes later Indonesia sensationally took the lead when Ilham Jaya Kesuma poked home.
Boaz Solossa completed a famous come-from-behind-win when he brilliantly rounded the goalkeeper and slid the ball into the empty night on 84 minutes.
The eerie silence that was left in the stadium was as disturbing as it is hard to forget. Indonesia would go on to lose their third consecutive final to Singapore.
Younghusband caps off epic passing move (fast forward to 0:41)
In a group encounter at the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup, Phil Younghusband was on on-hand to ensure the most intricate series of passes resulted in a goal for the Philippines against Vietnam.
The former Chelsea man has been brilliant for the Philippines over the years and this neat goal capped off a 2-0 victory that helped his team into the knock-out stages where they lost to Indonesia over two legs.
Malaysia 3 – 2 Thailand (December 20, 2014, Malaysia)
The scene was set. Playing at home in the final and having cancelled out Thailand’s 2-0 first leg victory with two goals of their own courtesy of Safiq Rahim and Indra Putra Mahayuddin, Malaysia were on course for their second AFF Championship title.
In fact, the come-back seemed almost complete when Safiq added his second, this time a superb free-kick, in the 58th minute. 3-0 up on the night and leading the tie 3-2, the Malaysian fans were dancing up a storm in the bleachers.
But the party never lasted long. In sobering fashion, Thailand suddenly recaptured the form that got them into the final and began moving the ball around with speed and intent.
In the 82nd minute, Malaysia conceded a free-kick in a dangerous area. Sarach Yooyen’s strike was acrobatically saved, but the rebound fell to Chappuis, who tucked the ball away and gave Thailand a vital away goal.
Thailand then scored again. Tournament star Chanathip Songkrasin’s unstoppable rocket from 20 yards gave the goalkeeper little chance and put the game beyond doubt.
Despite losing the second leg of the final 3-2, Thailand were champions for the fourth time.