Hopes were not high for the Singapore national team when they left for Vietnam to play the 2004-05 ASEAN Football Federation Tiger Cup, but Gary Koh recollects how they triumphed with a new coach, mindset and players against the odds.
Already with an accomplished club career, Indra Shahdan Daud could finally boast of a moment of international glory. Both hands clasped around the handles of the prestigious Tiger Cup trophy at the end of a glorious 2004-05 campaign, the striker cemented his legendary status amongst local fans.
The lifting of silverware had appeared improbable to start with. At the national level, Singapore football was at a low ebb since the Lions’ disastrous showings in the 2000 and 2002 editions, under Vincent Subramaniam and Jan Poulsen respectively.
Despite the turmoil on the surface, then-Singapore national coach Radjoko Avramovic had something up his sleeves. Since his appointment in mid-2003, the Serbian was tirelessly moulding a new side that he hoped would give some cheer to the long-suffering football supporters at the conclusion of the tournament.
Witness to the Serbian’s crafting from also-runs to champions during those years was Indra. A survivor from the previous two torrid regional campaigns, the now-35-year-old felt there was something different about how Avramovic geared his side up for the Tiger Cup.
A solid group stage saw the Lions record two wins against minnows Laos [6-2, where Indra bagged a brace] and Cambodia [3-0] after a goalless draw with eventual group winners Indonesia. That was sufficient to see them clinch their first achievement at the expense of highly-fancied Vietnam, advancing to the last four of the tournament for the first time since 1998.