Singapore needed a good result against Thailand on their turf after routing Timor-Leste 6-1 for a chance to reach the semi finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup. Unfortunately, things did not go according to plan for Fandi Ahmad and team, as they were beaten convincingly by the Thai football team.
Goals by Pansa Hemviboon (12th minute), Supachai Chaided (23rd minute) and Adisak Kraisorn (89th minute) made sure that the Lions have failed to proceed from the group stage for the third time straight.
It was always going to be tricky going up against Southeast Asian powerhouse Thailand in their backyard but things got a lot tougher after trailing after just 12 minutes. Thai defender headed home after some poor defending during a corner thanks to a badly executed offside trap.
From then on, it was always going to be difficult as Singapore tried in vain to concoct an equaliser. A hopeful long ball by Thailand looked to be covered by Zulqarnean Suzliman but he somehow lost his bearings and sliced the clearance. Supachai Chaided gladly accepted the gift and finished expertly.
At 2-0 down, Thailand got a stranglehold of the game and limited the Lions to sporadic attacks. They then went on to add icing on the cake with a third late on in the game when Singapore was pushing forward for a goal.
The Lions put on a valiant fight but it was not enough as the Thais march on towards the semi finals while Singapore head home to lick their wounds.
Next up, Thailand will meet Malaysia in the two-legged semi-finals, while Philippines will take on Vietnam.
Editor's thoughts: Fandi Ahmad has done a pretty good job of creating unity and cohesion within the national squad but the gulf in class between the Lions and the top teams in Southeast Asia is there for all to see. Whether he remains in charge after this is still a question mark but whoever takes over should look to build on this base and improve on it. If you look at the results in this competition, the Lions did a decent job and could have made it past the group stage if they had managed to get something out of the game against Philippines. The fans seem to have gotten behind the team again and that can only be good for the confidence and morale of the younger players. These young lads will be the backbone of the team for years to come and it would be a shame if the fans start criticising them for the exit.