Mitsubishi Electric Cup

About Mitsubishi Electric Cup

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Just over quarter of a century after winning the first AFF Championship in Singapore in 1996, Thailand lifted their seventh title at the 2022 edition. The years in between saw one of the world's most passionate and colourful international tournaments become a highlight of the Southeast Asian sporting calendar. The first-ever AFF Championship match in 1996 featured one of ASEAN's greatest players scoring an 89th-minute equaliser as Fandi Ahmad cancelled out K. Sanbagamaran's opening goal to ensure hosts Singapore earned a 1-1 draw with Malaysia in Kallang. Singapore ultimately exited in the group stage as Thailand and Malaysia advanced before winning their respective semi-finals. Kiatisuk 'Zico' Senamuang was the hero in the final as his early strike proved enough for the War Elephants to be crowned inaugural champions of a competition that had caught the imagination of the region. Vietnam played host in 1998 and it was they who ousted the defending champions in the semi-finals following a 3-0 victory in Hanoi, while Singapore edged Indonesia in Ho Chi Minh City to book their ticket to the final. Just like two years earlier, one goal was enough, with R. Sasikumar writing his name into Singaporean football history by scoring with 20 minutes to play to break Vietnamese hearts and seal his country's first major piece of silverware.


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A new millennium brought forward a new host as the tournament moved to Thailand in 2000, with the hosts breezing through the group stage with Kiatisuk scoring in each game before he was again on the mark in the semi-final victory over Malaysia. But it was Worrawoot Srimaka who stole the headlines in the final against Indonesia, scoring a hat-trick in a 4-1 win to seal the title. Two titles in three editions became three in four for the War Elephants but the 2002 competition, co-hosted by Indonesia and Singapore, would be the last time they lifted the title for 12 years. After squeezing through the group stage on goal difference, Thailand eased past Vietnam in the semi-finals to book a date with an Indonesian side looking for revenge after defeating Malaysia in the other semi-final. In front of 100,000 at Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, second-half goals from Garuda duo Yaris Riyadi and Gendut Doni Christiawan cancelled out first-half strikes from Chukiat Noosarung and Therdsak Chaiman. But Indonesia’s dream ended in the cruellest fashion as it was Thailand – despite Kiatisuk missing the opening spot-kick – who prevailed on penalties. Thailand’s reign was ended in 2004, however, when they were eliminated at the group stage in a campaign that saw Myanmar reach the last four for the first time before narrowly losing out to Singapore in the first two-legged semifinals.

 

 


Having overcome Malaysia in the other semi-final, Indonesia returned to the final for the third time in a row. It was not third time lucky, however, with a 3-1 loss in Jakarta followed by a 2-1 defeat in Kallang seeing Singapore crowned champions for the second time. Noh Alam Shah's seven-goal haul in Singapore's 11-0 group stage win over Laos remains part of the tournament's folklore, although in reality the striker would score more important goals in 2007. An equaliser against Malaysia in the first leg of the semi-final proved crucial as the Singaporeans ultimately advanced on penalties before he also netted as the Lions saw off Thailand 2-1 in the first leg of the final in Kallang. One down in the return meeting in Bangkok, Khairul Amri powered home the goal that saw Singapore draw level with Thailand on three titles after a 3-2 victory. Alam Shah's record-breaking 10 goals, meanwhile, won him the Golden Boot and MVP awards. A 20-year-old Teerasil Dangda netted his first AFF Championship goals in 2008, scoring twice against Malaysia in the group stage and then again in the semifinal victory against Indonesia. In the other semi-final, Vietnam ended Singapore's hopes of becoming the first team to win three in a row as they returned to the final a decade after their first appearance. Aiming for a fourth title, Thailand were stunned by Vietnam when goals from Nguyen Vu Phong and Le Cong Vinh saw the Golden Star Warriors win 2-1 at Rajamangala Stadium. Back in Hanoi, Teerasil opened the scoring but Cong Vinh's 94th-minute equaliser sparked pandemonium around My Dinh Stadium as Vietnam sealed a 3-2 aggregate win to become the third different nation to be crowned champions.