|By Khalis Rifhan
Singapore successfully defended their AFF Championship in 2007 after defying the odds to win it three years later.
Goal difference proved to be the savior for the Lions as they topped Group A with eleven goals ahead of Vietnam in second spot and Indonesia in third.
All three teams ended the group stage with five points while Laos were left stranded at the bottom after losing all their matches in the competition.
After an opening goalless draw with favourites Vietnam, the Lions blitzed eleven goals past the helpless Laotians.
Noh Alam Shah scored a staggering seven goals, a record to this day in the competition, while M.Ridhuan, Shahril Ishak, Khairul Amri and Itimi Dickson grabbed a goal each.
Despite drawing their last group match against Indonesia, Singapore advanced to the semi-final stage courtesy of a superior goal difference.
Over in Group B, Thailand topped the group while Malaysia squeezed through to the knockout stages, a point ahead of Myanmar in third place with three points.
Singapore had the honour of taking on arch rivals Malaysia in the semis as both sides played out a one all draw in both legs.
Both sides were not able to win it after extra time and the tie went into penalty shootout. All but Harimau Malaya’s Khyril Muhymeen slotted the ball comfortably to the back of the net as Singapore celebrated a second successive appearance in the final.
Up next for the Lions was Thailand who saw off Vietnam 2-0 on aggregate in the other semi-final tie.
In the first leg of the final, a controversial penalty was awarded to Singapore at the 83rd minute of the match, and the Thailand team walked off the pitch as a protest to the referee's decision. The Thailand team returned to the pitch at the 98th minute, and Singapore later won 2-1.
There were nervy moments in the return leg as Thailand striker Pipat Thonkanya opened the scoring to put level the aggregate and place the Thais in advantage courtesy of an away goal.
But the third ever title for Singapore was sealed nine minutes from time as Khairul's speculative effort from thirty yards swerved during its flight and sailed past the goalkeeper.
There was triple celebration for the Lions as Alam Shah not only grabbed the golden boot award but was also named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.