The AFF Suzuki Cup through the ages

How did the Suzuki Cup ever come about? What controversies plagued the tournament? FourFourTwo takes a look at the Cup’s history... 

With the fog of time and the breakneck pace of development in the following decades it’s not easy to pinpoint the origins of the AFF Suzuki Cup, but there’s a fair argument to be made that it came in a hotel in Bangkok way back in 1982.
In the year when Michael Jackson released ‘Thriller,’ the movie ‘E.T.’ became a box-office hit and the world first heard the term ‘internet,’ six men from Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines gathered on the sidelines of an AFC meeting to thrash out a way to help strengthen regional bonds through football.

Out of that meeting was born both the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) and a regional club competition, the ASEAN Champions’ Cup, with the inaugural edition seeing 80,000 people pack Indonesia’s Gelora Bung Karno to watch Bangkok Bank FC defeat local side Yanita Utama.

Both of those club sides are now defunct as is the tournament itself, fizzling out after another three editions as interest and funding starting to wane across the region.

The AFF was then basically dormant for almost half a decade and at risk of becoming irrelevant just as quickly as it had risen to prominence.  

In 1994, at the urging of the Malaysian Football Association, attempts were made to revive the regional body and expand the membership from the original six nations to also include the mainland Southeast Asian nations of Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

Malaysia are one of the teams that have helped shaped the Suzuki Cup's history

With the lifeblood of football bodies being the funding that’s derived from major tournaments, out went the idea of a club competition and in its place came the inaugural edition of the nation-based AFF Championship in 1996.

With the former Indochina nations still not full AFF members they were invited to the event, branded as the Tiger Cup, that Singapore hosted.

More than 40,000 crammed into the old National Stadium in Kallang to watch Fandi Ahmad grab a late equaliser as Singapore played out a 1-1 draw with Malaysia in the opening match to kick-off a competition that has grown to be one of the most important regional competitions anywhere in the world.

In a nice piece of symmetry between the past and the present, current Thailand coach Kiatisuk Senamuang scored the only goal of the one-legged final to help his nation defeat Malaysia and lift the maiden title.

Unfortunately that tournament also marked the start of what has become an ongoing blight on football across the region as the shadowy bagmen and manipulators tried to fix a match between Singapore and the Philippines.