Goal Singapore Monday Top 5 – Best Singapore Football Moments in 2013

In light of the unveiling of the Goal Singapore Football Awards, we look at the best moments of Singapore football so far this year in this week’s top 5
The Goal Singapore Football Awards was recently unveiled over the past weekend to recognise the best in Singapore football. With 30 nominees in contention in five different award categories, including Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year, Foreign Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and Women’s Player of the Year, the awards pay homage to the talented and well-deserving Singapore football fraternity.

In this week’s Top 5, Goal Singapore looks at the most memorable moments in Singapore football this past year after an eventful and memorable 2013.

5. Balestier Khalsa's first major trophy

We start off our countdown this week with Balestier Khalsa’s successful exploits this season. The Tigers capped off a memorable campaign by winning their first major trophy earlier this year after clinching the StarHub League Cup.

With the likes of China-born Singapore international Qiu Li leading the line alongside Korean duo Park Kang Jin and Kim Min Ho, together with the solid defensive performances of captain Paul Cunningham, the Tigers trounced Brunei DPMM 4-0 in the final in a match that was initially expected to be a tightly contested affair.

In addition, Balestier had their best season in the S.League after finishing fourth, their highest position ever in the club’s history. Darren Stewart’s men also finished third in the RHB Singapore Cup after only losing out to eventual winners Home United.

4. Home United clinching their sixth Singapore Cup

Home United comes next in the list after the club clinched a record sixth Singapore Cup trophy. The uniformed giants were initially touted to challenge Tampines Rovers for the title, but started the season in disappointing fashion. However, they made up for it with a strong finish to the season after overtaking Albirex Niigata in the league, finishing in second place. They then capped off a fine season with a 4-1 trouncing of Tanjong Pagar United in the Singapore Cup final.

The Protectors’ exploits on the pitch did not go unnoticed as they swept the top accolades at the recent S.League Awards Night as well. Marquee signing and former Korean international Lee Kwan Woo won the S.League Player of the Year while defensive counterpart Sirina Camara bagged the Young Player of the Year. Home's Korean coach Lee Lim Saeng was also awarded the Coach of the Year honour.

3. Tampines Rovers’ third consecutive S.League title

Tampines Rovers made it number three after yet another dominant season in the S.League, where the Stags were virtually untouchable as they marched to their third consecutive league title in as many years.

Aleksandar Duric spearheaded the Stags attack alongside the effervescent Khairul Amri, with the former, at 43 years of age, winning the joint top-scorer for the season with 15 goals. In addition, with the likes of Mustafiq Fahrudin, Shahdan Sulaiman, Jamil Ali and Shaiful Esah in their ranks, they were easily a class above the other clubs. Such was their dominance, they won the league with four games to spare.

2. Singapore’s sensational victory over Syria

The Singapore national team hasn’t exactly been the pride of the nation in recent times. Despite new manager Bernd Stange’s appointment, the Lions lost went down to a 2-0 defeat at home against Oman in a 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualifier, before suffering a 6-1 drubbing against China and a narrow 1-0 loss against Hong Kong in two subsequent friendlies. An unconvincing win against fellow Southeast Asian neighbours Laos did little to prevent doubt and criticism from simmering as well.

In short, no one really expected Singapore to come away with anything against Syria at the Jalan Besar Stadium, which made the victory all the more stunning. With their backs held against the wall, Stange’s young team shocked the 2012 West Asia Football Federation Champions as they turned on a masterful display in a 2-1 win thanks to goals from Khairul Amri and Gabriel Quak.

1. Malaysia Super League champions once again

In what is undisputedly the best football moment of 2013 and in recent times, the crowning of the LionsXII as Malaysian Super League champions is a result to savour. Singapore football fans finally re-lived the glory days of 1994 as the team won the MSL title in its second year after returning to the league.

The LionsXII fended off challenges from Johor Darul Takzim and Selangor FA to win the league by three points. Few would have expected the predominantly Under-23 team to last the distance, but it was their imperious home form that made the difference. Backed by the boisterous support at the Jalan Besar Stadium, the LionsXII remained undefeated at home throughout the entire course of the season.

Coach V.Sundramoorthy was the mastermind behind the title victory, but he had his heroes to thank as well with the likes of Safuwan Baharudin, Hariss Harun, Shahfiq Ghani, Baihakki Khaizan and captain Shahril Ishak all contributing to lead the team to glory.