The Dormant Lions: Can Singapore rise in the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup?

With the AFF Suzuki Cup only a few weeks away, the top teams in the ASEAN are gearing up for this big international event. Among the 10 teams in the competition, Singapore have one of the biggest missions to complete if they want to remain as one of the continent’s top football squads.

The Lions are no strangers in the competition, as they are the nation with the second most AFF Championship crowns with four, only behind Thailand who have one more.

However, with such a storied history comes the ever-present pressure and the previous two tournaments have certainly been something to forget for the team.

They were surprisingly lacklustre in their performances which resulted in them bowing out of the Group Stages in 2014.

Few would have bet on the possibility on them going through the same slump two years later and yet it happened again in 2016.

Now, instead of the Lions being in the conversations of who would win the title, there are now murmurs that wonder if they can even make it past the group stages this time around.

Things won’t be easy for the Lions as they are in Group B of the competition and are clustered alongside defending champions Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Timor-Leste.

Head coach Fandi Ahmad will be at the helm as he will look to help the Lions throughout the competition. Being named head coach only this year, Ahmad will have to go through trial by fire as his first major competition is the AFF Suzuki Cup.

PLAYER TO WATCH

While Singapore have many key players to look out for, the veteran presence and solid play of Baihakki Khaizan should spell the difference for the Lions.

If Singapore were coming off impressive competition in recent years, then there might be other players to watch out for. However, as they are desperately trying to bounce back from poor performances, the 34-year-old’s impact should be key moving forward.

He has expressed just how excited he is to help Singapore get back on track and being the rock of their defence, look at Baihakki to play more key roles throughout the competition.

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