Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia to meet; Lions set for Japan duel

Three of Southeast Asia’s traditional heavyweights – Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia – will face off in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers are they were all drawn in Group F on Tuesday.

The draw for the second round of qualification took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and saw a total of ten teams from Southeast Asia find out their path to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which will see each of them play eight matches from June to next March.

Apart from the World Cup, the qualifiers will also double up for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, which means Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia all stand an excellent chance of progressing to the continent’s biggest tournament.

Although Iraq are favourites to finish top of Group F, the trio of Southeast Asian countries will all fancy their prospects of fighting it out for second place, given the remaining team is minnows Chinese Taipei.

Over in Group E, Singapore and Cambodia both face a tricky route to the next round after being pitted against Asian giants Japan, Syria and Afghanistan.

Malaysia find themselves in Group A along with regional rivals Timor-Leste, although they will be aware they will have to get a result against either United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia or Palestine to have any chance of advancing to the Asian Cup.

Neighbours Myanmar and Laos will meet in Group G along with Korea Republic, Kuwait and Lebanon, while Philippines face Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Korea DPR and Yemen in Group H.

2018 FIFA World Cup Second Round Qualifying Draw

Group A: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Timor Leste, Malaysia

Group B: Australia, Jordan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh

Group C: China, Qatar, Maldives, Bhutan, Hong Kong

Group D: Iran, Oman, India, Turkmenistan, Guam

Group E: Japan, Syria, Afghanistan, Singapore, Cambodia

Group F: Iraq, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Chinese Taipei

Group G: Korea Republic, Kuwait, Lebanon, Myanmar, Laos

Group H: Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Philippines, Korea DPR, Yemen

Singapore come from behind twice to deny Guam big scalp

Singapore had to come from behind twice on Tuesday evening to prevent falling to an embarrassing defeat after a 2-2 draw with Guam at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

In what proved to be an impressive start by the visitors, they started the brighter of the two sides and carved out a host of chances in the opening exchanges.

Shane Malcolm looked the likeliest source of a Guam goal as he regularly found his way in behind the opposition defence, although he could only fire into the side-netting from a tight angle after rounding Izwan Mahbud in the fifth minute, before having a low shot saved by the Lions keeper four minutes later after skipping past two men.

The hosts had an excellent chance to break the deadlock when Baihakki Khaizan made a darting run to the near post to meet Zulfahmi Arifin’s corner and nodded it towards the far post, although Alexander Lee was perfectly positioned to hack the ball to safety.

But eight minutes before halftime, Matao opened the scoring after Malcolm held the ball up inside the area before sending a low cross into the six-yard box, where Shawn Nicklaw proceeded to nip in ahead of Izwan and stab the ball home.

Nonetheless, the Lions pulled level nine minutes into the second half when Ismadi Mukhtar found space down the right and floated a lovely cross onto the head of Faris Ramli, who made no mistake in planting a firm header past Bijan Gloston.

Still, Guam reclaimed the lead in the 73rd minute and it was a strike worthy of winning any contest; Jason Cunliffe latching onto a throw-in and sending a stunning first-time half volley with the outside of his left foot looping over Izwan and into the far corner.

However, the hosts did managed to respond once more with ten minutes remaining when a short corner routine eventually saw Shahril make his way to the edge of box and float a dangerous delivery for Baihakki to volley into the back of the net.

Singapore did have one final chance to win it in injury-time when Shahril charged through the middle and curled away a shot from the edge of the box, but Gloston produced a brilliant flying save to deny the Lions the victory.

Singapore: Izwan Mahbud, Ismadi Mukhtar, Baihakki Khaizan, Zulfahmi Arifin, Shakir Hamzah, Hariss Harun, Safuwan Baharudin, Sahil Suhaimi (Gabriel Quak 46’), Shahril Ishak, Faris Ramli, Khairul Amri (Shahfiq Ghani 73’).

Guam: Dallas Jaye (Bijan Gloston 46’), Alexander Lee (Min Choi 90’), Mason Grimes, Brandon McDonald, Nathaniel Lee (Micah Paulino 58’), Ryan Guy, Justin Lee (Dylan Naputi 69’), Shawn Nicklaw, Jason Cunliffe, Shane Malcolm (Jan Staman 85’), John Matkin.

Attendance: 1,864

Singapore U-23s handed shock defeat by Cambodia U-22s

Singapore Under-23’s preparations for the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games were handed a real blow on Thursday after they were beaten 3-1 by Cambodia Under-22.

The Lions got off to a dream start at the Jalan Besar Stadium when they took the lead after just two minutes; Sahil Suhaimi beating the offside trap to latch onto Shahfiq Ghani’s visionary over-the-top pass before emphatically firing into the back of the net.

However, the visitors shot themselves in the foot a minute before the break when Shakir Hamzah was too casual inside his own area and lost possession to Phanny Y Ratha, who made no mistake in firing past an exposed Syazwan Buhari.

Things got from bad to worse for the hosts in the 67th minute when they conceded a penalty – and were also reduced to ten men – after Shakir Hamzah committed a last-man foul Prak Mony Udom, who picked himself up and slotted the resultant spot-kick into the bottom corner.

And in the 72nd minute, the Royal Khmers wrapped up the win when Samoeun Pidor broke free inside the box after an incisive pass from Mony Udom, before coolly finishing past Syazwan.

To add insult to injury, Singapore finished the game with nine men when Sheikh Abdul Hadi was also shown a straight red for an off-the-ball altercation with an opponent.

Speaking after the game, Singapore U-23 boss Aide Iskandar admitted Thursday’s defeat was disappointing but called for patience ahead of the upcoming SEA Games.

“We can have no excuses,” he said. “Today’s [Thursday’s] performance was not good enough.

“The penalty was the turning point at 1-1, but we have to accept it. It was never going to be easy going a goal down and a man down from that penalty, but give credit to Cambodia – they came with a game plan and it worked.

“For me, the fans have every right to shout whatever they want to, but they have to realise this is not the real tournament yet.

“I have to apologise to the fans who came down and were disappointed. But rest assured we are working hard to make sure we have a good SEA Games.

“I’m still committed and I am confident the boys will put on a good showing.”

Meanwhile, Cambodia boss Lee Tae-hoon was pleased with his charges even though he feels they were a bit fortunate on the night.

“I told my players to just play with confidence,” the South Korean said. “They worked very hard and they followed instructions well.

“I think we got the three goals because Singapore made mistakes so I think we got quite lucky.”

Singapore U-23: Syazwan Buhari, Fadli Kamis (Al-Qaasimy Rahman 60’), Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Shakir Hamzah, Farhan Rahmat (Safirul Sulaiman 60’), M. Anumanthan (Pravin Gunasegaran 90’), Amirul Adli (Shamil Sharif 53’, Taufiq Muqminin 78’), Adam Swandi (Shameer Aziq 51’), Shahfiq Ghani (Amy Recha 68’), Iqbal Hussain (Christopher van Huizen 53’), Sahil Suhaimi (Irfan Fandi 51’).

Cambodia U-22: Prak Mony Phirun, San Thideth (Ngoy Srin 31’), Nub Tola (Chheng Meng 73’), Nen Sothearoth (Ly Arifin 84’), Prak Chanratana, Moung Makara (Samoeun Pidor 61’), Hoy Phallin (Soeuy Visal 54’), Ol Ravy (Sary Matnorotin 25’, Op Kamol 87’), Rous Samoeun, Phanny Y Ratha (Tit Dina 73’), Chan Vathanaka (Prak Mony Udom 61’).

Hassan ready for Thai challenge with Army United

Singapore international Hassan Sunny is determined to rise to the challenge of playing overseas after completing his move to Thailand’s Army United.


Following a three-day trial earlier this month which has ultimately proved to be successful, Hassan has put pen to paper on a one-year deal with the Thai Premier League outfit and arrived in Bangkok on Sunday to begin his journey as a foreign player plying his trade in what many currently regard as the best league in Southeast Asia.

The 30-year-old already made history last year when he became the first goalkeeper to win the S.League’s Player of the Year award, after his consistent displays helped former side Warriors FC claim their first league crown since 2009.

Following that success, he was Singapore’s first-choice custodian in their ill-fated 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup title defence, where they were eliminated in the group stages, and was preparing for the upcoming S.League campaign with new side Tampines Rovers.

However, the Stags maintained they would not stand in the player’s way should an offer from overseas come his way, and with his move to Army now completed, Hassan is now ready to make the most of what he admits is a ‘dream’ move.

“I think most people know that it’s very difficult – or should I say almost impossible – for goalkeepers to get out there and play outside Singapore,” he told Football SEA.

“Even more so when you consider it’s a league that has a limit on foreign players.

“I can only say a dream has been realised for me to get the chance to play overseas.”

Considering he is arguably one of the region’s top two goalkeepers, along with Muangthong United star Kawin Thamsatchanan, the fact that foreign teams have shown interest in him should come as no surprise.

Nonetheless, he admits there will always be reservations over signing a foreign goalkeeper, but is relishing the chance to prove any doubters wrong.

“I guess there will always be people who believe a foreign player spot would be wasted on a goalkeeper,” Hassan added.

“Initially, even the club were uncertain if they needed a foreign goalkeeper, but everything changed at the end of the day and they decided to sign me.

“What I need to now do is to prove that goalkeepers are as important to the team as outfield players.”

In recent times, several of Singapore’s top players have been courted by foreign sides with Hariss Harun, Shahril Ishak and Baihakki Khaizan all playing for Johor Darul Ta’zim I and II in Malaysia.

Still, Hassan can lay claim to being the first local-born Singaporean to earn a move to Thailand, although English-born John Wilkinson did play for Police United in 2011.

And the former Geylang International and Courts Young Lions man is hoping he can inspire the next generation of footballers in the country – both outfielders and goalkeepers – to dream big.

“Hopefully the young ones can learn from this,” he said. “Especially our young goalkeepers.

“It’s all about changing the mind-set and believing that nothing is impossible.

“All you need to do is have a dream or set a target, and then work in that direction.

“Work hard – work harder than anyone else.”

Hassan is certainly no stranger to hard work given he is renowned for his professionalism and discipline on the training track, and he showed tremendous resilience to bounce back from a wretched run with injuries in 2011 and 2012.

Another challenge now awaits him as he embarks on an adventure in a new country with a different lifestyle and culture to Singapore.

But displaying his trademark assuredness, Hassan insists it is just something he will have to deal with as a foreign player in Thailand.

“To be honest, I believe one has to get out of their comfort zone in order to be successful,” he revealed.

“Sometimes you have to struggle and overcome it to achieve something – nothing comes easy.

“Sure, as a foreign player arriving in Thailand I will need to adapt to their culture and other aspects and it will probably take a while, but I don’t see it being a problem.”

Hassan will be looking to make his Army debut on February 14 when his side open their 2015 Premier League campaign against newly-promoted Siam Navy.

Photo credit: BP Chua (Axrosstheline)

2014 AFF Suzuki Cup Team of the Tournament

The final ball has been kicked and it is Thailand who have emerged triumphant after being crowned champions of the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup.

Given they were widely regarded as favourites before the tournament began, it should come as no surprise that they have reclaimed their status as the number one side in Southeast Asia for the first time since 2002.

Over the past month, several members of the War Elephants established themselves as national heroes following their pivotal roles in bringing a fourth regional crown back to Thailand, including the likes of Kawin Thamsatchanan, Chanathip Songkrasin and Charyl Chappuis.

However, a number of players from Malaysia can also hold their heads high after leading their side to an impressive – and what many assumed was impossible – run to the final, while Philippines and Vietnam also gave a good account of themselves before ultimately falling at the semi-final stage.

Here, Football SEA picks our best players from the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup in a 4-2-3-1 formation, including seven substitutes, as well as our top coach from the tournament.

GK: Kawin Thamsatchanan (Thailand)

He may not have been the busiest of goalkeepers given the Thais dominated almost all their matches, but – whenever he was called upon – Kawin proved to be equal to the task.

The Muangthong United man’s finest game was arguably the 0-0 draw against Philippines in the first leg of the semi-finals, when he refused to be beaten even after his side were reduced to ten men following Adisak Kraisorn’s dismissal.

Kawin got better as the tournament wore on and kept a vital clean sheet in the first leg of the final after producing fine stops to deny Norshahrul Idlan Talaha and Indra Putra Mahayuddin, which went a long way in helping the Thais claim the title.

RB: Simone Rota (Philippines)

If there were doubts over who Philippines’ first-choice right-back was ahead of the tournaments, there should no longer be any after Rota’s determined displays throughout the tournament.

The 30-year-old’s campaign got off to a fine start when he opened the Azkals’ account with a well-taken equaliser in the 4-1 Group A win over Laos, which helped settle their nerves after Khampheng Sayavutthi had fired their opponents in front.

Rota came face to face with some of the region’s most-dangerous wingers, including Zulham Zamrun and Kroekrit Thaweekarn, but never lowered his colours apart from one testing encounter against Vietnam’s Pham Thanh Luong during the group stage.

CB: Shukor Adan (Malaysia)

Alas, it was not to be for the 35-year-old as he failed to finish off his international career with a Suzuki Cup winner’s medal.

But Shukor will have no shame in the manner in which he signed off on his 14 years with Malaysia, especially given how many questioned his selection in the squad before the start of the tournament.

Handed the captain’s armband by Harimau Malaya coach Dollah Salleh, Shukor relished the challenge of leading his troops and at times looked to be the only one holding the shaky backline together, and was arguably his side’s best player throughout.

CB: Tanaboon Kesarat (Thailand)

With Thailand boss Kiatisuk Senamuang opting to leave out experienced defenders like Panupong Wongsa, Chonlatit Jantakam and Nataporn Phanrit, many wondered how the backline would hold up against the region’s deadliest strikers.

To be fair, it was in defence where the War Elephants looked the most vulnerable at times but they ultimately got the job done, and Tanaboon deserves plenty of credit for the way he stepped up despite his tender years.

Blessed with an ability to read the play, strong physical attributes as well as good technique, the future looks extremely bright for the 21-year-old, who also showed in the 2-0 Group B victory over Myanmar that he’s more than capable of being deployed in midfield.

LB: Peerapat Notechaiya (Thailand)

Peerapat started the tournament as Kiatisuk’s first-choice left-back in the 2-1 win over Singapore, although a niggling injury then saw him replaced by veteran Chayapat Kitpongsritada in the next two games.

But once he regained full fitness, the BEC Tero Sasana starlet was straight back into the team and displayed remarkable maturity for a 21-year-old, as well as impressing with his tireless running down the flank.

Thailand may currently be blessed with a host of talented left-backs, including 2013 Thai Premier League Player of the Year Theerathon Bunmathan, but Peerapat could just make the position his own if he continues to develop and realise his full potential.

CM: Sarach Yooyen (Thailand)

Given the number of famous names in the Thailand side, it was perhaps easy to overlook a pint-sized defensive midfielder by the name of Sarach Yooyen, although those who did notice him would be aware of just how important he was to the team.

Despite his slight frame, the Muangthong youngster had plenty of bite in his challenges as he looked to shield his defenders, but it was the way he broke up opposition attacks with his understanding of the game that made him stand out as an anchorman.

Once he had won possession, he was always looking to get his team on the front foot with his precise distribution, and he was also never afraid to have a go himself; his blistering freekick in the second leg of the final that forced Farizal Marlias into a flying save eventually led to Chappuis’ pivotal strike.

CM: Safiq Rahim (Malaysia)

It can be argued that Safiq still did not display his true ability despite finishing the tournament as the top scorer with six goals, and playing as a traditional central midfielder no less.

Given his obvious talent, the Johor Darul Ta’zim playmaker did not always get into the game and lacked the urgency in several key moments when his side needed it badly.

But for sheer impact and ability to keep his nerve in the biggest moments, Safiq gets the nod after his four clinically-taken penalties, along with a fine individual effort and a sublime freekick, helped Harimau Malaya get as close to winning the title as they did.

RW: Amri Yahyah (Malaysia)

Along with Shukor, Amri was perhaps the one Malaysian player that emerged from the tournament with plenty of credit to his name.

His selflessness and versatility have always been known to fans given how he’s often been deployed as a winger rather than his favoured position as a striker, but the way he – at times – looked to singlehandedly drag his side over the line was nothing short of inspirational.

Amri may have finished the tournament with only one goal to his name but much of the good work he produced was done in the build-up, and he did almost provide the goal of the tournament in the 3-2 Group B loss to Thailand after his stunning 60-yard lob over Kawin came crashing back off the bar.

AM: Phil Younghusband (Philippines)

For the third tournament in a row, the Azkals progressed to the last four to reaffirm their status as one of Southeast Asia’s major forces.

Despite having got among the goals in 2010 and 2012, Younghusband unfairly entered the tournament with queries from some quarters over his big-game mentality, despite being Philippines’ all-time top scorer at the age of 27.

By the time his side had played their opening two matches, those doubts had been emphatically dispelled with two goals and three assists to his name and although he failed to add to that tally thereafter, he often loomed as his side’s likeliest source of something special and seemed to excel playing as a second striker.

LW: Chanathip Songkrasin (Thailand)

Granted, it was Kroekrit Thaweekarn, and not Chanathip, that was Thailand’s first-choice left winger throughout the tournament but given the way the latter freely roamed the pitch, is it really possible to pinpoint a fixed position where he was deployed in?

One thing is for certain – whenever he received the ball in the attacking third, he was almost always unstoppable with his phenomenal control, sublime dribbling and blistering pace.

Nonetheless, he also bucked the trend of most silky attackers by regularly looking for his team-mates rather than go it on his own, and was deservedly named the Most Valuable Player of the competition.

ST: Le Cong Vinh (Vietnam)

Before the start of the tournament, there were rumours that coach Toshiya Miura was considering leaving Cong Vinh out of his final 22 and, following a couple of quiet years at club level, it was certainly fair to ponder if we had seen the best of the one-time golden boy of Vietnam.

While his campaign may have begun on the bench, it took him just 13 minutes to make an impact after coming on as a second-half substitute in the 2-2 draw against Indonesia; latching onto a weak clearance header and sending a spectacular first-time volley into the top corner.

Cong Vinh went on to finish the campaign with four goals to his name, including a well-taken brace in the 4-2 loss to Malaysia in the second leg of the semi-finals, and was the most-impressive spearhead in a tournament that really lacked genuine quality from the out-and-out strikers.

Coach: Kiatisuk Senamuang (Thailand)

A gold medal at last year’s Southeast Asian Games and a remarkable fourth-place finish at this year’s Asian Games – was there anything left for Kiatisuk to achieve?

The answer was a resounding yes as the legendary former Thailand striker became the first person to win the Suzuki Cup both as a player and coach, gaining a new legion of fans across the region in the process for his cool demeanour on the touchline, as well as the way he always conducted himself with immense class.

Kiatisuk’s reputation has now been further enhanced by the fact that he is the man that ended the War Elephants’ 12-year wait to reclaim the AFF crown, which was made even more impressive by the fact that the average age of his squad was just 24.

The future is bright for Thailand, and the future is certainly bright for Kiatisuk.


GK: Hassan Sunny (Singapore)

Hassan ultimately did not get much of a chance to prove his worth given Singapore’s disappointing group-stage exit, although he was one of the Lions’ best performers and continues to rival Kawin as the region’s number one goalkeeper.

FB: Zulkifli Syukur (Indonesia)

One of just two Indonesia players to start all three Group A games, Zulkifli – at times – looked like the only player in the side with a remote idea of how to defend, and deserves credit for the way he regularly covered Achmad Jufriyanto and Muhammad Roby.

CB: Le Phuoc Tu (Vietnam)

At 30, Phuoc Tu was the oldest player in the Vietnam side along with Le Tan Tai but more than held his own against younger, faster and fitter opponents, only to be ultimately let down by some shambolic defending from Dinh Tien Thanh, Nguyen Van Bien and goalkeeper Tran Nguyen Manh in the 4-2 semi-final second-leg loss to the Malaysians.

CM: Charyl Chappuis (Thailand)

The new poster boy of Thai football – Chappuis certainly proved he is capable of delivering the goods after grabbing four goals, although he still has room for improvement given the way he went quiet for significant periods in a couple of matches, as well as his tendency to go for the killer pass too often.

WG: Vu Minh Tuan (Vietnam)

While many expected Nguyen Van Quyet to be Vietnam’s brightest spark before the tournament began, he failed to really fire and instead it was Minh Tuan who proved to be a real threat down the right with his enterprising runs and direct style of play that really caused problems for his opponents, especially against Laos and Philippines.

FW: Indra Putra Mahayuddin (Malaysia)

Although the veteran did not start any of Malaysia’s first four matches, he had such an impact coming off the bench that it was impossible for Dollah to leave him out thereafter, and he went on to become Harimau Malaya’s most-creative outlet in the attacking third in their charge to a runners-up finish.

ST: Khairul Amri (Singapore)

Like Cong Vinh, Amri was one of the few out-and-out strikers that managed to put in a series of consistent displays, even though he only had three games to showcase his abilities. His dominant display as a target-man in Singapore’s 2-1 opening day defeat to Thailand set the standard, and he always gave opposition defenders something to think about.

Malaysia edge Singapore to Suzuki Cup last-four berth

Malaysia are through to the semi-finals of the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup after claiming a 3-1 win over Singapore to finish second in Group B.

Following a goalless first half at the National Stadium, Harimau Malaya took the lead in the 61st minute when the ball broke to Safee Sali inside the box, and the striker made no mistake in smashing an emphatic strike into the back of the net.

However, Singapore looked to have forced the draw they needed to advance when Khairul Amri pounced on rebound to score, after Safuwan Baharudin’s blistering freekick had been parried by Khairul Fahmi.

But as the clock ticked over into injury-time, Malaysia were controversially awarded a penalty after Amri Yahyah was adjuged to have been shoved from behind by Hafiz Abu Sujad; Safiq Rahim stepping up to the spot and firing past Hassan Sunny’s despairing dive.

And right at the death, with Hassan up in the other box in a last-ditch attempt to grab an equaliser, the Malaysians cleared their lines and hit on the counter before Indra Putra Mahayuddin slotted into the unguarded net from 30 yards out to seal the win for his side.

Next up for Harimau Malaya will be a semi-final clash against Group A winner Vietnam, with the first leg to take place on December 7.

Malaysia: Khairul Fahmi, Mahali Jasuli, Shukor Adan, Muslim Ahmad, Zubir Azmi, Azamuddin Akil, Gary Robbat (Hafiz Kamal 58’), Safiq Rahim, Amri Yahyah, Safee Sali (Indra Putra Mahayuddin 88’), Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Abdul Manaf Mamat 90’).

Singapore: Hassan Sunny, Ismadi Mukhtar, Safuwan Baharudin, Shakir Hamzah, Shaiful Esah (Hafiz Abu Sujad 63’), Hariss Harun, Shahril Ishak, Fazrul Nawaz (Gabriel Quak 63’), Shahfiq Ghani (Amirul Adli 76’), Faris Ramli, Khairul Amri.

Singapore see off Myanmar to stay in the hunt

Singapore remain in the running to qualify for the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup semi-finals after claiming a 4-2 win over Myanmar in Wednesday’s Group B clash at the National Stadium.

The Lions took the lead after 16 minutes when Shaiful Esah whipped in a 25-yard freekick that sailed past a sea of players, before taking a bounce and making its way into the bottom corner.

Five minutes after the half-hour mark, the hosts doubled their tally when Hariss Harun was picked out by Faris Ramli on the edge of the box and brought the ball under control with his chest, before sending a stunning volley past Thiha Sithu.

The contest then looked all but over when Singapore made it 3-0 two minutes before halftime as Hariss lashed another volley – this time on his left foot – into the back of the net, after Myanmar had failed to clear their lines from a corner.

However, the White Angels were handed a lifeline in the 56th minute when Kyaw Zayar Win broke free inside the area following a lovely one-two with Min Min Thu, before slotting his shot past Hassan Sunny.

Six minutes later, the deficit was reduced further as Kyaw Ko Ko stepped up to the penalty spot and fired straight down the middle, after he had been barged over by Safuwan Baharudin inside the area.

Nonetheless, any hopes Myanmar had of pulling off a miraculous comeback were ended 15 minutes from time when Khin Maung Lwin, in an attempt to clear another dangerous freekick by Shaiful, only succeeded in steering the ball past his own goalkeeper to seal the win for the Lions.

The victory means Singapore are now up to second place in Group B and a draw against arch-rivals Malaysia would be enough to see them advance to the last four, provided leaders Thailand beat Myanmar.

Myanmar: Thiha Sithu, David Htan, Aung Zaw, Win Min Htut, Khin Maung Lwin, Tin Win Aung, Yan Aung Kyaw (Kyi Lin 46’), Kyaw Zayar Win, Min Min Thu (Chit Su Moe 84’), Nanda Lin Kyaw Chit (Nyein Chan Aung 63’), Kyaw Ko Ko.

Singapore: Hassan Sunny, Ismadi Mukhtar (Al-Qaasimy Rahman 38’), Baihakki Khaizan, Safuwan Baharudin, Shaiful Esah, Hariss Harun, Shahdan Sulaiman (Zulfahmi Arifin 24’), Sahil Suhaimi (Fazrul Nawaz 77’), Shahril Ishak, Faris Ramli, Khairul Amri.

Stange insists Lions are raring to take on Myanmar

Singapore coach Bernd Stange claims his players are in good spirits ahead of Wednesday’s 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup Group B clash with Myanmar.

Having fallen to a 2-1 loss to Thailand in their opening game last Sunday, the Lions know that victory at the National Stadium against Myanmar will be crucial to their chances of qualifying for the knockout round.

But although there was clear disappointment in the Singapore camp after losing to an 89th-minute penalty in their last game, Stange insists his charges have put that result firmly behind them.

“The team is in good spirits and morale is high,” he said. “We’re ready to go and all that’s left to do is for me to decide my starting XI tomorrow [Wednesday] morning.

“We were very unlucky to lose to Thailand after missing many chances, and we will do better against Myanmar.

“There’s no need to talk so much and there’s nothing to explain before the game as it doesn’t matter; we have to win the next two matches to ensure we qualify and that’s what we want to do.

“I expect us to do better against Myanmar and I’m confident we can achieve a positive result.”

The Singaporeans will be coming up against a familiar face on Wednesday in the form of Myanmar coach Radojko Avramovic, who led the Lions to three AFF titles in 2004, 2007 and 2012.

Although the Serb admits his side will face a tough test against Singapore, he is hoping they can cause an upset.

“Of course, there is mixed feelings playing against a team I used to be in charge of,” he said.

“It will be a very important game for both Myanmar and Singapore and I think both sides will find it tough.

“The thing is that they will be under pressure, not us.

“In our last game against Malaysia, we should have taken all three points but were not able to score from the chances we created.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to improve on that in this game.”

Chappuis penalty helps Thailand edge Singapore

An 89th-minute penalty from Charyl Chappuis was enough to hand Thailand a 2-1 victory over Singapore in Sunday’s 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup Group B clash.

The War Elephants had taken the lead after just eight minutes when Monkol Tossagri arrived late at the back post to meet Prakit Deeprom’s low cross, and proceeded to slam his shot from point-blank range into the roof of the net.

But in the 19th minute, Singapore pulled level after Khairul Amri ghosted in between the opposition centre-backs to nod home an inch-perfect cross by Shaiful Esah.

It looked as though the Lions had done enough for a point, and it could have even been better for that had they been able to make the most of their chances.

Nonetheless, it was Thailand who went on to claim maximum points a minute from time after Safuwan Baharudin handled the ball inside the box, paving the way for Chappuis to step up and coolly fire the resultant penalty into the bottom corner.

The Thais will be able to book their spot in the semi-finals if they win their next match against Malaysia on Wednesday, while the Lions will look to bounce back against a Myanmar side managed by former coach Radojko Avramovic.

Singapore: Hassan Sunny, Ismadi Mukhtar, Baihakki Khaizan (Zulfahmi Arifin 46’), Safuwan Baharudin, Shaiful Esah (Shakir Hamzah 63’), Hariss Harun, Shahdan Sulaiman, Faris Ramli, Shahril Ishak, Sahil Suhaimi (Gabriel Quak 86’), Khairul Amri.

Thailand: Kawin Thamsatchanan, Artit Daosawang, Adisorn Promrak, Pravinwat Boonyong (Suttinun Phuk-hom 76’), Peerapat Notechaiya, Sarach Yooyen, Charyl Chappuis, Prakit Deeprom (Chanathip Songkrasin 65’), Monkol Tossagri, Kroekrit Thaweekarn, Kirati Keawsombat (Adisak Kraisorn 61’).

Stange declares Singapore will win AFF Suzuki Cup

Singapore coach Bernd Stange has boldly claimed his side will be crowned champions of the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup.

A ball has yet to be kicked at Southeast Asia’s premier international tournament and Group B action only kicks off on Sunday, but already the German has declared the Lions will emerge victorious come December 20.

“We are going to win this tournament,” he said at Saturday’s pre-tournament press conference.

“There will be no excuses from us and we will not be saying that we are underdogs.

“We have a very balanced team with experienced players from the last Suzuki Cup-winning squad, a group of players in the 23 to 25 age bracket, as well as a couple of youngsters.

“Now we have to perform but we will also have the advantage of 40,000 fans supporting us.”

Singapore face arguably their toughest test on the opening day against Thailand, who are widely regarded as favourites for the tournament.

Nonetheless, Stange insists his side will show no fear coming up against a Thai team who are largely made up from the squad that won last year’s Southeast Asian Games, as well as finished fourth at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon.

“Their results have been amazing – they are a young team and I rate them very highly,” he added.

“But we’re not afraid. It’s a tournament and nobody should be afraid.

“Even if we rate our opponents very highly, it doesn’t mean anything – we start a 0-0 and after losing to them at last year’s SEA Games, maybe this time we can exact our revenge.”

Thailand assistant coach Klairung Treejaksung, who attended the press conference of Kiatisuk Senamuang, insists his charges will not have any complacency heading into the tournament.

“This current Thailand team has a lot of new blood and young players,” he said.

“We’ve been preparing this team for a long time at last year’s SEA Games and this year’s Asian Games.

“All the teams in this group are strong and we are aware that we have to be careful, but we certainly did not come here thinking we’ve already won.

“But in every game, we will just look to play our own and hopefully perform to the best of our abilities.”

Sunday’s clash at the National Stadium will also be a rematch of the 2012 final, which saw the Lions win a record fourth title following a 3-2 aggregate victory.