Singapore is turning 50 and to celebrate the anniversary, FourFourTwo have dug into the archives and produced our list of the 50 biggest moments in the country’s football history, in no particular order...
1. The National Stadium at the Singapore Sports Hub is opened
On September 29, 2010, construction began on the new National Stadium. There were some delays along the way and the final cost of S$1.87 billion was well above the original budget. The pitch has also come in for some criticism, but overall Singaporeans have a plush, modern stadium for which they can be proud.
2. 1998 ASEAN Football Championship
A tournament that will forever be shrouded in controversy. With Thailand and Indonesia assured of reaching the semi-finals, the winner of their group clash would face hosts and favourites Vietnam in the final four and the loser would face Singapore, perceived as the easybeats of the remaining teams. That led to the farcical scene of Indonesian defender Mursyid Effendi deliberately scoring an own-goal in stoppage time to ensure a 3-2 defeat. But the Lions would have the last laugh – beating Indonesia in the semis and then Vietnam 1-0 in the final in one of the competition’s biggest upsets to claim their first international title. Indonesia and Thailand were handed $40,000 fines and Effendi was banned from international football for life.
3. Fandi Ahmad
In terms of Singapore’s football history, it could almost be considered a shame Fandi Ahmad wasn’t born three years later than his birth date of May 29, 1962, so he could celebrate his 50th birthday the same year as his nation. Finishing his career with a swag of honours at club level, he scored a record 55 goals in 101 appearances for the national team and became the first Singaporean to play in Europe (see highlights at No.22 below). He has also enjoyed great success in the coaching ranks, currently leading LionsXII, and he even founded his own academy. His legacy is also living on through his children, with his eldest sons Irfan and Ikhsan currently progressing through the junior ranks.
4. Lions records tumble
In January 2007, Singapore achieved a national record 11–0 win against Laos in an AFF Championship match. Mohd Noh Alam Shah picked up a significant personal milestone, scoring a record seven goals in that match. He would end the tournament with 17 goals to be named Most Valuable Player.
5. FIFA Rankings
In the FIFA World Rankings, Singapore's highest standing of 73rd was achieved in the first release of the figures, back in August 1993. Singapore was also the Asian Football Confederation’s 'Mover of the Year' in 2005. Sadly, the Lions can only dream of those highs at the moment, currently languishing in 155th place.