Needing at least a draw to confirm their semi-finals berth with Thailand, the Lions were pegged back by a penalty in injury time with the score at 1-1.
Referee Al Kaf Ahmed incurred the wrath of the Singapore fans and players when he awarded a spot-kick to the Tigers. Safiq Rahim duly converted the penalty while Indra Putra Mahayuddin made sure of the win with a strike at the death as Malaysia advanced out of the group at Singapore’s expense.
Malaysia had opened the accounts just after the hour mark when Safee Sali (below, in blue) lifted the ball into the net with a close range strike.
However, Singapore managed to stage a superb fightback with talismanic striker Khairul Amri prodding the ball home in the 83rd minute after Malaysia goalkeeper Mohd Farizal spilled Safuwan Baharudin’s free kick into his path.
Khairul Amri brought the crowd to its feet when he scored the equaliser, briefly bringing Singapore's title defense back on track. (Photo by VoxSports)
Khairul (red, no. 19) reeling away in delight after scoring the equaliser. (Photo by VoxSports)
While Singapore’s AFF Suzuki Cup journey ended prematurely, Singapore head coach Bernd Stange insisted that this was just the beginning of a great era for Singapore’s football.
“When the draw was made, we knew it was going to be a tough road for us with powerhouses Thailand, Myanmar with the former Singapore coach and even the derby tonight against Malaysia,” Stange stressed.
“We should step forward and have the right conclusions, it is a young team, it is a bright future, seven, eight players can play in next year’s SEA Games and the next games.”
Captain Marvel Shahril Ishak echoed his coach’s sentiments, and added: "We did really well, this team we are all true Singaporeans and it take time for us and coach Bernd as well, and we will do well in the next tournament."
"I think we have to look towards the future because the local boys have done Singapore proud."
One of Singapore’s standout performer in the the tournament with two goals, Hariss Harun was obviously disappointed about the team’s early exit.
However, the Lions’ vice-captain was grateful that they had a chance to witness the Kallang Roar once again with 48,183 in attendance in the match against Malaysia.
The Kallang Roar was alive and rocking with 48,183 spectators in attendance for the game. (Photo by VoxSports)
"What I can say is that we didn't do enough, we are out, let's move on from this,” Hariss said.
"We had enough in us to hold but because of some circumstances, things happened and that's the way it is now, we can't change anything."
"It's great, it was almost a full house at the stadium and I would like to thank the fans for coming and just disappointed we couldn't give back to them, something for them to cheer about but we will move on from this and we will try to get better."