Our readers believe there is still a massive gap between Asean teams and those at the top tier of Asia
Syria thumped an understrength Singapore 4-0 in Tehran, Iran in Group A to reignite their hopes of making it out of the group, with three goals in the last 10 minutes. Thailand crashed to their fourth loss in as many Group B games as they lost 3-0 to Iran at home, while Indonesia were edged 1-0 by China in Group C. Malaysia went down by the same scoreline in Group D against Bahrain, while Vietnam were no match for Uzbekistan in Group E as they lost 3-0.
None of the Asean nations scored a goal against superior Asian opponents, with all but one of the five now currently rooted to the bottom of their respective groups. Only Malaysia are better off, as they sit third, and are still on track to qualify as the best third-placed team.
The dismal results had the majority of Goal Singapore readers believing that the chasm in quality is still huge, with 61.9% feeling that it will take more than 10 years to bridge the gap. Only 14.3% think 10 years will be enough, with 13.1% more optimistic at five years, while the remaining 10.7% chose seven years.
Past results in the previous round of games, such as Singapore's 2-1 win over Syria and Malaysia's 1-1 draw with Bahrain do show that Southeast Asian nations have potential. But for them to start dining with the best at Asia's table, much more has to be done undoubtedly.
Youth development, proper facilities and a clear plan for the future are just some of the things, but it remains to be seen whether the respective countries can take sufficient action to improve their state of football.