Over the course of its 22-year history, the AFF Suzuki Cup has had its fair share of controversial moments. And with the 2018 edition of the tournament only a week away, we’re hoping that none of such instances repeats itself and the matches are played in the right spirit.
Here are the five most controversial moments in the tournament’s history, which definitely shouldn’t repeat themselves.
Myanmar finish with eight men (2004)
Back in 2004, Myanmar had exceeded expectations and romped on to the semifinal of the tournament. The first leg, which was Myanmar’s home game finished 4-3 in their opponent Singapore’s favour.
Despite being a goal down, the White Angels started the second leg on the front foot and took a 2-0 lead early in the second half. An aggregate lead of 5-4 was what they had to hold on to. However, as it turned out, they went on to lose 8-5 on aggregate.
Yan Paing was sent off for Myanmar in the 70th minute and Singapore soon got a goal back. With two minutes remaining in the match, both Zaw Lynn Tun and Moe Kyaw Thu were given the marching orders for their protest against a penalty.
Though the home side missed the penalty and the match went into extra-time, Singapore scored thrice more to close the tie and qualify for the final.
Indonesia’s Mursyid Effendi’s blatant own goal
In 1998, only the tournament’s second edition, Indonesia and Thailand had already qualified for the semifinals and the last group stage match between them was to decide which team finishes top of the group. The catch here, however, was that the winners of the match would face host Vietnam in semis while the losers would go on to play Singapore.
With the match even at 2-2 in the last minute, Indonesia’s Mursyid Effendi scored a blatant own goal to make sure Indonesia play Singapore in the next round. And as it turned out, Tim Garuda went on to lose their semifinal and bow out of the tourney.
Effendi was banned for lifetime from international football.
Myanmar goalkeeper attacks referee (2008)
In a 2008 group stage match between Singapore and Myanmar, the former were leading 2-1. The Lions then doubled their lead through a quickly taken free-kick.
The Myanmar players were furious that the referee allowed Singapore to take the free-kick so quickly, especially their goalkeeper Aung Aung Oo. He ran behind the referee and shoved him in the back.
The goalkeeper was shown a red card and was given a one-match suspension from the AFF. Singapore won the match 3-1.
Final stopped after lasers pointed at Indonesian players (2010)
The 2010 AFF Cup final was played between Indonesia and Malaysia, two of the fiercest rivals. With the match stalled at 0-0 early in the second half, the Indonesian players complained of lasers being pointed at their eyes.
The referee was forced to stop the match and some players tried to talk the crowd out of it as well. After an eight-minute break, the match resumed and finished 3-0 in favour of the hosts Malaysia.
Even the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had a say about the incident before the second leg: “Don’t use laser beam pointers, which distracted Indonesian players and ruined their mood during the [first] match. Let’s uphold sportsmanship…”
Indonesia, however, ended up on the losing side despite winning the second leg.
Thailand’s penalty walk off (2007)
In the final of the 2007 edition of the tournament, Thailand and Singapore were pitted against each other. With the match heading towards a 1-1 draw in the first leg when the referee decided to award hosts Singapore a dubious penalty.
The Thailand players were infuriated by the decision and protested against referee C. Ravichandran before walking off to the dressing room. They did return after 15 minutes but only for Mustafic Fahrudin to convert the spot kick and get a 2-1 advantage for his team to take to Thailand.
Singapore managed to draw the second leg and won the championship.