The AFF Suzuki Cup has had its fair share of controversy over the years, FOX Sports Asia look at some of the more controversial moments from this year’s edition.
Where were the fans?
The Philippines hosting of the AFF Suzuki Cup was certainly not appreciated by fans, who stayed away in droves from the Philippine Sports Stadium.
Only around 4,000 watched the Azkals’ Group A opening stalemate against Singapore, while an estimated 2,000 saw the draw against Indonesia.
At both games, it was visiting supporters who provided most of the atmosphere.
This tournament and past editions have seen crowds of up to 40,000 at games in Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.
Crowd numbers might have been low because of poor pre-tournament results for the Philippines, with losses to North Korea and Bahrain, while transportation to the venue one-hour north of Manila was another factor.
Philippine officials said tournament organisers had insisted the games were played at the newer facility rather than at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in the centre of Metro Manila.
Indonesia team bus attacked
— Kaskus TV (@KaskusTV) December 11, 2016
Indonesia were still celebrating their advance to the final after their aggregate win over Vietnam when rocks were thrown at the team bus.
The alleged assailants were reportedly riding motorcycles when the incident occurred on the way back to the team’s accommodation after their game in Hanoi, while police escorts were said to be only at the front and rear of the bus, rather than on the sides as is standard practice at major tournaments.
The bus returned to the stadium to wait for a replacement vehicle and a heavy security detail escorted the team on the second journey, with riot police on the bus itself.
“We want to apologise to Indonesia for this unfortunate incident, but the police had their own security plans in place and maybe they didn’t anticipate this kind of incident,” Vietnam Football Federation general-secretary Le Hoai Anh said.
Philippines fail to impress
The Philippines failed to reach the semi-finals, despite playing with home advantage through the group stage.
Going into their final Group A match, the Philippines fell to defending champions Thailand 1-0, while Indonesia beat Singapore to leapfrog the Azkals and finish second.
Thailand’s Sarawut Masuk hit a late winner, which saw the Philippines finish with their worst result in the past four tournaments, poor return from a squad that was expecting to reach the semifinals at least.
“We did our best during the tournament, but we were unlucky and we did not finish again,” Philippines forward Misagh Bahadoran said. “That’s one of the weaknesses that we have; to score goals. We need to release the ball faster to each other to score goals.”
Sundramoorthy defends Singapore tactics
Singapore coach V. Sundramoorthy insisted that his side had an attacking mindset at the AFF Suzuki Cup, despite their failure to impress as they finished at the foot of the Group A with a draw and two losses.
We played really well, honest!
The four-time winners were tipped as one of the teams to watch, but scored just once in three games.
“We were attacking the Philippines until the moment we received a harsh red card and in the next game” against Thailand, Sundramoorthy told the New Paper. “The statistics showed that we had more shots than Thailand, both in the number of shots, as well the number of shots on target.”
“Every player I picked showed 100 percent commitment during training, and in matches, and all of them definitely gave it their all. As a coach, I could not have asked for more from them in terms of commitment,” he said.
When asked whether his job would come under scrutiny, Sundramoorthy said: “How long have you been in your job. After six months, did people judge your future?”
Cambodia coach calls out his players
Cambodia coach Lee Tae-hoon reportedly came close to quitting after their AFF Suzuki Cup ended with three losses.
On Facebook Lee accused his players of not following his orders and paying little attention to their fitness.
“Most players do not pay attention to maintaining the strength and health,” said Lee, whose contract expires this month. “We cannot get good results, because our players cannot play the full 90 minutes.”
“I think all the players know this, but they do not try. If they take care of their health and strength of course we’ll get good results.”
Cambodia lost 3-2 to Malaysia, 3-1 to Myanmar and 2-1 to Vietnam.
Following their loss to Malaysia, Lee said Cambodia lacked discipline, respect and self-confidence.
“I’m very disappointed. Despite our best efforts we couldn’t hold on. It was important that our players got some experience from this game. We don’t have much experience playing in the final rounds and that showed on some of our players. Our players have improved in terms of quality but we lack the winning mentality and spirit.”