AFF Suzuki Cup: Five milestone moments in Singapore's four AFF Cup wins

Singapore fans showing their support for the Lions during the first-leg final match of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2012 at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Dec 19,  2012. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Singapore fans showing their support for the Lions during the first-leg final match of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2012 at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Dec 19,  2012. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Asean's premier football tournament kicks off on Saturday and it is fair to say that the Lions roar loudest whenever the Asean Football Federation (AFF) championship comes around.

No other country has matched Singapore’s four titles at the biennial showpiece, which were won thanks to some lionhearted performances from key players at critical stages.

We look back at the Republic’s top five moments in the years they ruled Asean.

1) September 1998: "Shoulder of God"

Singapore's triumphant Lions parade the Tiger Cup trophy after beating Vietnam 1-0 in the final in Hanoi in 1998. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore’s first regional success arrived via the unlikeliest of sources. Defender R. Sasikumar was quickest to react to a long looping cross, jumped and connected with his shoulder instead of his head. But it mattered little as the ball found its way into the Vietnam net. 

Cue stunned silence from 25,000 home fans and pandemonium on the Lions bench as it proved to be the only goal in a fiesty final - and the highlight of Englishman Barry Whitbread’s coaching stint.

Watch some video highlights here

2) January 2005: Return of the Kallang Roar

A jubilant Singapore captain Aide Iskandar (centre) hoists the Tiger Cup aloft after receiving the trophy from President S R Nathan (second from left), on Jan 16, 2005. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Led by hotshots Agu Casmir and Indra Sahdan, the Lions won the tournament for the first time on home soil. In front of a buoyant sell-out crowd that brought back the Kallang Roar, Indonesia were beaten 2-1 (5-2 on aggregate) in the second leg of the final, a match that many national players remember fondly to this day for the atmosphere and post-match celebrations.

Watch some video highlights here

3) January 2007: Seventh heaven

Singapore's seven-goal hero, Mohd Noh Alam Shah (right) being congratulated by Mohd Khairul Amri after scroring his hat-trick. -- PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

It was the thrashing to end all thrashings: Laos were humbled 0-11 by the fiery Lions in their group encounter.

What made it an even more memorable night – unless you were a Laos supporter – was the seven-goal haul from Noh Alam Shah, who was at the peak of his striking prowess and went on to lead Raddy Avramovic’s charges to the championship.

Watch some video highlights here

4) February 2007: Amri’s awesome aim

Singapore captain Aide IskandAr (left) and S. Subramani arrive in Singapore with the Asean Football Championship trophy on Feb 5, 2007. -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Singapore and Thailand were locked 2-2 on aggregate with nine minutes left in the second leg of the final. Former Manchester United chief Alex Ferguson famously calls it "squeaky bum" time, while others refer it to as the "make yourself a hero" period.

And it was a baby-faced 22-year-old who made a name for himself at the Supachalasai Stadium. Twisting past his marker, Khairul Amri created space for himself to unleash a howitzer into the top right corner for the goal that downed the Thais and lifted the Cup.

Watch some video highlights here

5) November 2012: Rampant Tigers tamed

Lions vice-captain Hariss Harun and reserve goalkeeper Joey Sim hold the Suzuki Cup aloft on an open-top bus in front of the Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza during the team's victory parade on Dec 23, 2012. The Lions defeated Thailand 3-2 on aggregate in the final of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2012 to bring home the title. -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Nothing is sweeter than drubbing your arch-rivals on their own turf. Led by captain Shahril Ishak’s timely brace, Singapore did just that to defending champions Malaysia. The 3-0 victory in Kuala Lumpur kickstarted their unexpected charge all the way to the title.

Avramovic’s swansong also included an exciting 4-3 win over Laos, after the Lions trailed by two goals in the first half. An in-form Shahril was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, linking up well with veteran hitman Aleksandar Duric.

Watch some video highlights here

* Tickets are available through www.sportshubtix.sg, hotline, the box office at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and at all SingPost outlets.