Football: Four-time champions Singapore and Thailand set for Suzuki Cup clash

National coach V. Sundramoorthy (second from right) with his team players.
National coach V. Sundramoorthy (second from right) with his team players. PHOTO: FAS

SINGAPORE - The national football team have been handed a tough draw at the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.

V. Sundramoorthy's players have been drawn in Group A with four-time champions Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines in a draw that was made on Tuesday evening in Myanmar, the co-hosts of the biennial competition together with the Philippines.

Defending champions Thailand, South-east Asia's highest ranked team (No. 121) pose the greatest threat to Singapore.

But the Lions have avoided Causeway rivals Malaysia, who defeated the Republic 3-1 at the last edition, a result which knocked the hosts out of the tournament at the group stage.

Singapore are also four-time champions of South-east Asia's most prestigious football tournament, winning the title in 1998, 2004, 2007 and 2012.

Laos, Timor Leste, Cambodia and Brunei will compete in the qualifiers in Cambodia in October to contest for the final berth in Group B. They will join Myanmar, Vietnam and Malaysia.

The competition commences on Nov 19 and ends with a two-legged final on Dec 14 and 17.

Lions caretaker coach Sundram had set a target of a semi-final finish.

But based on their current form, the Lions will have their work cut out for them in the upcoming months if the Republic hope to regain the crown.

Apart from a 1-0 victory over Myanmar in Sundram's first match in charge since his appointment in May, the team have recorded some poor results.

Singapore sunk to a low last week when they suffered a shock 1-2 loss to the region's minnows Cambodia in a an away friendly, their first loss to the 180th-ranked team in the world since 1972.

Prior to that defeat, they went on a training tour in Japan, where they lost to the Niigata University of Health and Welfare 2-3, beat Japan Soccer College 2-0 and fell to J-League team Albirex Niigata 0-3.

In June, they were beaten 3-0 by Vietnam in the AYA Bank Cup, a quadrangular held in Yangon.