Singapore draws traditional rivals in AFF Suzuki Cup group stages

Traditional Southeast Asian rivals Thailand and Malaysia will be itching to avenge their respective losses to Singapore two years ago at the new National Stadium following the draw for the 2014 Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup finals in Vietnam on Tuesday afternoon.

Together with the qualifying group winners, the trio are pooled together in Group B and will meet in Singapore in late November.

Group A sees co-hosts and 2010 winners Vietnam, two-time runners-up Indonesia, Philippines and the qualifying runners-up feature in Hanoi.

Thailand fell to the four-time defending champions on aggregate in the two-legged final while Malaysia were stunned 0-3 on home soil at Bukit Jalil in the opening group match in 2012.

In the previous campaigns that saw the three regional kingpins pooled together in the same group in Singapore in the first round in 1996 and 2002, Thailand and Malaysia progressed into the semi-finals each time at the expense of the Lions.

The tenth edition of the biennial tournament will see Bernd Stange taking Singapore to its  first major regional finals after taking charge of the national side last May.

His predecessor Radjoko Avramovic, who is now currently the head coach of Myanmar, had led the Lions in the last five editions and brought success on three occasions in 2005, 2007 and 2012 during his decade-long reign.

The Southeast Asian nations are seeded according to their overall performance rankings derived from the 2010 and 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup tournaments, with the top six automatically qualifying for the finals.

The remaining five - Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Timor Leste and Laos - will play a one-leg round-robin qualifying pool in Vientiane this October.

The top two finishers of the qualifiers will advance to the group stage to be played in Singapore and Vietnam later in the year.

Image Credit: AFF Suzuki Cup Twitter