Monday, February 05, 2007

Singapore wins ASEAN Football Championship

The tiny island republic of Singapore has usurped Thailand to again become South East Asia's pre-eminent footballing power. In 2005, Indonesia, with a population of over 230 million, were humbled by Raddy Avramovic's men and at the Supachalasai Stadium, despite having the baying Bangkok crowd behind them, it was the turn of the Thais to perish at the hands of Singapore. A 3-2 aggregate win was sealed with a 1-1 draw when Khairul Amri scored the equaliser eight minutes from the end of a game that saw the hopes of Thailand's 70 million football fans dashed.

The 2007 ASEAN Football Championship win maintained a record run for the Singaporeans, who have now gone 17 games unbeaten in the competition, their last defeat coming in a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of bitter rivals Malaysia in December 2002. Fifteen of those have been under the command of Avramovic, who has also maintained Singapore's astonishing record of winning the tournament every time they have progressed beyond the group phase.

Avramovic's squad featured Mustafic Fahrudin, Serbian by birth, China-born Shi Jiayi, Nigerian duo Itimi Dickson and Precious Emuejeraye as well as Daniel Bennett, an Englishman by birth. The imports have complemented local-born stars such as Indra Sahdan Daud and Noh Alam Shah and under the control of Avramovic the mix has grown increasingly potent.

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