|By Khalis Rifhan
When Singapore won the AFF Championship in 2004, goalkeeper Lionel Lewis was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, after a series of superb performances helped the Lions lift the trophy. His exemplary displays led to him being nominated for the Asian Player of the Year award in 2006, making him the only ASEAN player and only goalkeeper to do so, as well as being Singapore's first-ever nominee.
Lionel, who would go on to win a second AFF medal in 2007, spoke to Goal.com ahead of the Suzuki Cup final between Singapore and Thailand.
“I think it’s not going to be easy for Singapore as Thailand has been in good form lately, but Singapore has also been doing well in the competition," he said.
The two teams will go head to head in the hopes of winning the title for a record fourth time since the tournament's inception in 1996.
While Lionel acknowledges that it won’t be easy for the Lions against the War Elephants, he believes that Singapore will be able to achieve a result at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
“I really hope Singapore can do something. We have to realize that the goal was to be in the final. So in the final, there are two games and two halves so whoever gives 100% in both games, the chances [will] be there for them," the lanky Lionel explained.
In 2007, Singapore won the first leg of their final 2-1 at the old Kallang stadium, courtesy of goals from Noh Alam Shah and Mustafic Fahrudin.
In the return leg at Suphachalasai Stadium, Pipat Thonkanya gave the Thailand the lead five minutes after the break but Khairul Amri scored the equalizer nine minutes before the end to break Thai hearts and seal the title for Singapore.
“You [have] got to get a good result in front of your home fans. If you look at the last game, they drew in Philippines and won here [Jalan Besar]. So hopefully they are able to do it again and repeat 2007," Lionel concluded.