BANGKOK: Singapore crashed out of the AFF Suzuki Cup on Sunday (Nov 25) after losing 3-0 to reigning champions Thailand at the Rajamangala Stadium.
An own goal from Irfan Fandi, a poacher’s finish from Supachai Jaided and a late Adisak Kraisorn strike meant the Thais top Group B on 10 points while the Lions finished third with six.
Heading into the match, Fandi Ahmad’s Singapore side needed a victory to guarantee their place in the semi-finals of the tournament.
The Lions gave the home side an early scare as Ikhsan Fandi’s low shot was pushed away by Thai custodian Chatchai Budprom.
But it was the Thais who broke the deadlock in the 12th minute, as an inswinging cross was scuffed into his own net by Irfan.
The hosts doubled their lead 11 minutes later as an attempted clearance from Zulqarnaen Suzliman fell kindly to Jaided's feet and he finished low past Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny.
Singapore came out firing after the break, with the introduction of Faris Ramli providing some added impetus.
Ikhsan almost pulled one back in the 55th minute for the Lions but his curling freekick from just outside the area failed to hit the target.
Fandi threw defenders Safuwan Baharudin and Irfan into the attack and his side started to punt the ball long as the Lions tried to find their way back into the match.
But this meant the home side had extra space to exploit and striker Kraisorn duly sealed the Thais' victory with one minute left.
Speaking at a post-match press conference, Fandi said that his team lost to a better side.
"They deserved to win, they were much better than us today," he said. "I thought we gave our best, but our best just wasn’t good enough and I just hope the fans understand."
The loss means it has been six years since the Lions last progressed past the group stages of the tournament, but Fandi pointed out that Singapore are currently a side in the process of rebuilding.
"The last two years have been very bad for us, every ASEAN team has gone past (us), but we are trying to rebuild this team and whoever comes in to take over this team, I hope that we have something again for the future," said Fandi, who was appointed as interim head coach earlier this year.
Fandi said he was pleased by the grit and determination his side showed throughout their campaign.
"We are all the underdogs ... people think that we don’t have a chance but at least we fought until today, the last day," he said. "We are very proud of the players, especially the younger ones who are coming in."
In the group’s other game, Philippines were held to a goalless draw by already-eliminated Indonesia. Sven Goran Eriksson’s Azkals finished in second behind the Thais.