Five things to know about Singapore at the AFF Suzuki Cup
With Singapore hosting the AFF Suzuki Cup at the end of the year, here are five fun facts to know.
Singapore will host the 13th edition of the AFF (Asean Football Federation) Suzuki Cup this year.
The tournament, formerly known as Tiger Cup, was postponed from last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and will take place from Dec 5, 2021 to Jan 1, 2022.
Singapore are in Group A, and will take on Myanmar in their first game. They will also face Philippines, Thailand, and either Timor Leste or Brunei in the group stages too.
A 27-man provisional squad has been named by Lions coach Tatsuma Yoshida, including the likes of Singapore Premier League Young Player of the Year Nur Adam Abdullah, Gabriel Quak, and Harris Harun.
Before the footballing festivities take off, here are five fun facts about the Lions’ performances at the biennial football tournament over the years.
Lions have bowed out at the group stages in the last three tournaments
Since winning their fourth AFF Suzuki Cup title in 2012, the Lions were eliminated at the group stages in three straight tournaments.
In the 2014 edition, which was held in Singapore, the Lions led by German head coach Bernd Stange finished third in their group after losing to eventual finalists Thailand and Malaysia.
Two years later, Singapore, under the guidance of head coach V Sundram Moorthy, finished bottom of the group after failing to win any of their three matches which included losses to Thailand and Indonesia.
In the 2018 edition, Singapore, this time led by Fandi Ahmad, finished third in the group stage, despite recording wins against Indonesia and Timor Leste. Defeats to Philippines and Thailand (yet again) meant that they did not earn enough points to move onto the knockout stages.
This year, the Lions will be led by Japanese coach Tatsuma Yoshida, who will take charge of his first AFF Suzuki Cup tournament.
The all-time top scorer in the AFF Suzuki Cup is Singapore's Noh Alam Shah with 17 goals
Despite not appearing in any of the last four AFF Suzuki Cup tournaments (his last appearance came in 2010), Noh Alam Shah remains the all-time top scorer in the AFF Suzuki Cup.
The fiery Singaporean striker played in five editions of the tournament, starting in 2002 when the tournament was still named the Tiger Cup.
Alam Shah netted just one goal in 2002, but went on to score four times in 2004, 10 in 2007, and two more in the 2008 edition. He failed to score any in the 2010 edition.
Mention the legendary striker’s name and most will remember his seven-goal effort against Laos in 2007, which remains as the most number of goals scored in a AFF Suzuki Cup match by one player. Alam Shah was also named the best player of the tournament in 2007.
Among active players, Thailand’s Teerasil Dangda has the highest number of goals with 15.
Singapore and Thailand are the only nations to have won back-to-back titles
Both Singapore and Thailand are the most successful nations in the regional tournament. The Lions won back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2007, while Thailand did it twice in 2004 and 2006, as well as in 2014 and 2016.
Of the 12 editions, Singapore and Thailand have won a combined nine editions, with the Lions winning four.
Singapore’s first win in the tournament was at the 1998 Tiger Cup, where they beat Vietnam in the final 1-0 thanks to a goal by defender R Sasikumar.
Singapore’s 2004 victory came thanks to a 5-2 aggregate victory against Indonesia. Having beaten them 3-1 in Jakarta, and then 2-1 in the second leg at the old National Stadium in Kallang.
The Lions’ 2007 triumph was nothing short of exciting. Having beaten Thailand 2-1 in the first leg to a sell-out National Stadium, the game was marred with a controversial penalty call for the Lions which resulted in Thailand walking off the pitch in protest. The second leg was played to a 1-1 draw in Bangkok, as Singapore clinched victory on aggregate.
Singapore’s last tournament win came in 2012 when they defeated Thailand 3-2 again on aggregate, this time a 3-1 win in the first leg at the Jalan Besar Stadium before losing 1-0 in Bangkok.
Interestingly, Singapore have won each time they made the finals. Only once (in 2008), they did not advance to the final after making the knockout stages.
Singapore have conceded the least number of goals among the six nations who have played in all 12 editions
Across 12 editions, Singapore played 56 games and won 28 times. The Lions have scored 102 goals, and conceded just 54 times, the least among the six nations who have played in all 12 editions.
Singapore’s best defensive tournament is a tie between the Lions’ most recent two triumphs, having conceded just six goals in seven games each at the 2007 and 2012 edition.
Three Singaporean stars have won the most valuable player (MVP) at the AFF Suzuki Cup - the joint most with Thailand
The three Singapore players are: Lionel Lewis (2004), Noh Alam Shah (2007) and Shahril Ishak (2012).
Goalkeeper Lionel Lewis was only 21-years-old when he picked up the 2004 Tiger Cup MVP, putting on several inspiring performances in goal. Then playing for the Young Lions, Lionel was the first goalkeeper to have won the award.
Striker Noh Alam Shah’s prolific 2007 campaign naturally saw him picking up the award. The striker played for Tampines Rovers in the S.League then.
Sharil Ishak captained the Lions to the trophy and was influential as he scored four goals at the 2012 edition. The forward played his club football for LionsXII in the Malaysian Super League then.
While Thailand also had three players winning the MVP awards, their star midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin has won it twice – in 2014 and 2016 – and is the only player to have done so. The other Thai players to have won the award are Kiatisuk Senamuang (2000) and Therdsak Chaiman (2002).