It was heartbreak for Singapore, as they were eliminated from the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup on the final match-day. Fandi Ahmad’s side had a chance of making it to the semifinals, after wins over Timor Leste and Indonesia. But defeats against Philippines and Thailand saw the latter two progress in their place. We take a look at five other editions when Singapore crashed out in the group stages.
#1 Myanmar/Philippines 2016
This is the seventh time Singapore have exited the competition from the group stage. The first one came in the very first edition of the tournament in 1996, and the latest came in 2016.
The tournament was being hosted jointly by Myanmar and Philippines during 2016. Singapore were drawn alongside hosts Philippines, and eventual finalists Thailand and Indonesia.
The group itself proved to be too much of a challenge for Singapore, who exited the competition without winning a single game. They lost to both Thailand and Indonesia and could manage only a draw against Philippines, who were themselves eliminated.
#2 Singapore/Vietnam 2014
Two years before Singapore’s collapse of 2016, the Lions had hosted the AFF Suzuki Cup alongside Vietnam. The home crowd was expected to be a major factor for the team who had won the title just two years earlier.
The home side were drawn alongside Thailand, Malaysia, and Myanmar in Group B, with all three of their games taking place on home soil. The Lions lost their first match to Thailand by 2 goals to 1. However, a victory against Myanmar in their second match meant that they faced Malaysia in a ‘decider’. Malaysia had amassed just 1 point in two games and needed all three points to progress.
Things looked to be going Singapore’s way as well, as both the teams were locked in at 1-1 till stoppage time. However, two late goals from Safiq (90+3) and Indra Putra (90+5) meant that the Lions ended their campaign with a heartbreak.
#3 Indonesia/Vietnam 2010
The 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup was jointly hosted by Indonesia and Vietnam and saw Malaysia lift the trophy for the first time in their history. However, for Singapore, it was a forgettable edition, as they exited the competition in the group stage.
The Lions were put alongside hosts Vietnam, Philippines, and Myanmar in Group B. It was expected to be an easy group to pass through for Singapore but it turned out to be quite opposite.
They drew their opening match against Philippines, conceding a goal in stoppage time. They then faced Myanmar and beat them by two goals to one. Singapore went in the final matchday with a chance of progressing. However, Nguyen Vu Phong goal in the first half kicked them out of the competition.
#4 Indonesia/ Singapore 2002
Indonesia and Singapore were given the joint responsibility of hosting the 2002 AFF Suzuki Cup. The competition was in its fourth edition and was being hosted by two countries for the first time.
Hosts Singapore were drawn alongside perennial winner Thailand, Malaysia, and Laos.
However, the Lions started their campaign on the worst possible note and were thrashed 4-0 by Malaysia in their opening match. A narrow win against Laos followed. And once again, Singapore’s fate was left to be decided on the final group stage match-day.
They were up against Thailand in their final group game and went behind early on. Noor Ali did manage to level the score but couldn’t find a winning goal. Singapore finished third, thereby exiting the competition.
#5 Thailand 2000
The AFF Suzuki Cup took place in Thailand in the year 2000. So far the competition had been played twice with the hosts winning one and Singapore the other.
Being the title holders, the Lions were once again expected to go on deep into the competition. However, first, they had to pass through a five-member group.
They were drawn alongside Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Laos; and even started off on a bright note with wins against the latter two. However, two straight losses followed, and the Lions were left to rue their luck.
#6 Singapore 1996
The first ever AFF Suzuki Cup took place in Singapore in 1996. The competition was brought about to be the mini ‘World Cup’ of the region and had generated immense excitement amongst the fans.
Hosts Singapore were drawn alongside Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, and Philippines for this one and began their tournament with a draw.
Two consecutive wins followed as the Lions beat Brunei and Philippines by 3-0 each. However, their fate was left to be decided on the final group stage match day.
Singapore played Thailand knowing that all they had to do was to match Malaysia’s result from their match against Brunei. However, while Malaysia thrashed their opponents 6-0, Singapore fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat, thereby exiting the first ever edition of the cup.