Monday, October 5, 2009

2003 ASEAN Club Championship

2003 can be considered a one-off season. An entire AFC Champions League season was postponed as a new disease, SARS, strucked the East Asian region.

With the second edition of the AFC Champions League postponed, that was only the 2003 inaugural ASEAN Club Championship to look forward to for Singapore sloe representative, SAFFC.

It was to prove a big disappointment for Singapore Cup champions, Tampines Rovers, as they only have the right to participate in the AFC Champions League but not the ASEAN Club Championship which only see league champions participating.

Therefore all hope in Asia rest on SAFFC for 2003 and considering their track record thus far, it is a worry for Singapore.

The Warriors have proven to be more than a disappointment in Asia, as they have yet to reach the quarter-final of any Asian club competition despite having more attempts than any other S-league clubs.

Even their uniform rival the Protectors had already surpassed them in only two attempts in the 2001/02 Asian Cup Winners’ Cup by reaching the quarter-final that year and crushing Thai Royal Air Force 5-1 overall along the way.

Adding to the worry were the Warriors form for 2003; with them having failed to get their domestic season off the road. They had to make a number of changes to their squad during the mid-season transfer window but as a result of that, they could not use the newly-recruited players for the ASEAN Club championship as it was after the AFF deadline for player registration.

With a weaken team, the Warriors were cruelly exposed in Indonesia when in the opening match they crashed to a 0-2 defeat against M-league champions Perak but worse was to follow in the next match against Brunei league champion DPMM. The Brunei champion had been easily dispatched 7-0 over two-leg by the Eagles in the AFC Champions League, a mere eight months ago, but yet the Warriors found themselves 0-2 down against the same club with time ticking away. Then came the most incredible last few moments as an own goal first gave the Warriors hope with two minute left before Warriors captain Nenad Bacina equalised deep into injury time. It meant the Warriors were through to the quarter-final as they had the better goal difference when compared against DPMM, who lost to Perak 0-3.

Considering what other S-league clubs could achieve against DPMM, it was a terrible result for SAFFC and an embarrassing way to get into the quarter-final.

If that not bad enough, after the final whistle Warriors midfielder Ahmad Latiff foolishly got himself send off for retaliating to a DPMM player action. It was unforgivable act for an experienced player like Ahmad Latiff not to have put his team interest first when taking his course of action.

The Warriors was now further weaken for an important quarter-final meeting against Indonesia Petrokimia Putra and with the odds stacked against them.

It was therefore impressive that the Warriors went two goals up against Petrokimia Putra with Jeyakanth Jeyapal grabbing both. What was to follow though was to destroy the Warriors rhythm with crowd trouble erupting in the stands. The match was stopped with the Indonesian police seeking to restore order. The break proved fatal for the Warriors for right from the restart onwards, Petrokimia Putra totally dominated the match. The Indonesia side pulled one goal back before half-time and got their equaliser soon after the break. No breakthrough followed until the end of the match and extra-time was needed. In extra-time, nothing changed with the Warriors pinned back before Petrokimia Putra finally got their winner with the second period of extra-time moments away.

No doubt, the Warriors could cursed the crowd trouble for destroying their momentum in a match they were running away with but it does not disguised the fact they were a disappointment yet again.

Despite reaching the quarter-final for the first time in their history, they had failed to win a single match throughout the tournament despite among the opposition was a side trounced by Eagles eight months ago.

All the ASEAN Club Championship showcase was the Warriors continued failure in Asia

After yet another failed campaign, this time in ASEAN, it lead to question marks over SAFFC desires and if they should be barred from Asia so that the slot would be given to one more willing to fight for the cause.

Singapore representatives

2003 ASEAN Club Championship (Indonesia)









Perak (Malaysia)






DPMM (Brunei)






Petrokimia Putra (Indonesia)


* After extra time, Full-time score 2-2

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