Tournament record:
Winners in 1998, 2004, 2007 and 2012

The Lions

National coach:
V. Sundramoorthy (Singapore)

They share the record with Thailand for most AFF Suzuki Cup championships but after a disappointing defence of their title in 2014, Singapore will be looking to make amends in this year’s tournament.

The tiny island republic have regularly punched above their weight in the regional competition, overcoming Vietnam in 1998, Indonesia in 2004 and Thailand and 2007 and 2012 to become the first team to be crowned ASEAN champions on four occasions.

The latter three titles were won under Serbian coach Radojko Avramovic but his successor Bernd Stange was unable to lead the Lions past the opening round on home soil two years ago.

Singapore were hoping to make a big impression in front of their fans at the newly-opened National Stadium but losses to eventual finalists Thailand and Malaysia, which sandwiched a 4-2 win over Myanmar, saw them bow out at the group stage for the second time in three tournaments.

While the Lions could point to a lack of fortune as they succumbed to late penalties against both Thailand and Malaysia, the reality is that they were outplayed in both games, struggling to cope with the pace and energy of the Thais and the strength and determination of the Malaysians.

Although his side earn a memorable 0-0 away draw against Japan in a World Cup qualifier in 2015, Stange struggled to win over the fans during his three-year reign as Singapore national coach and so there was little surprise when the German departed in April this year after his contract expired.

His replacement is former Lions star forward V. Sundramoorthy, the first Singaporean to take the national job on a full-time basis since the departure of Vincent Subramaniam in 2000.

Since retiring as a player, the ‘Dazzler’ has gained much experience as a coach of Singapore’s youth teams as well as the Lions XII side which won the Malaysian Super League in 2013 and his rapport with the players on the current squad, many of whom have played under him previously, should hold the team in good stead as they look to roar again on the ASEAN stage.
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