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Defending champs Singapore drawn to meet 2004 runners-up Indonesia in Asean Football Championship

Defending champions Singapore have been drawn to meet 2004 runners-up Indonesia in the group stage of next year’s Asean Football Championship.

Co-hosts Singapore, who beat Indonesia 5-2 on aggregate in the two-legged final to lift the trophy for the second time, will also take on Vietnam, the 1998 runners-up, and Laos in Group B of the biennial tournament, formerly known as the Tiger Cup.

Three-time winners Thailand will have home advantage in their matches against old rivals Malaysia, who beat them on their way to the last four in 2004, Myanmar and the Philippines in Group A.

Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam qualified directly for the finals through their ASEAN ranking while Laos and the Philippines came through a preliminary competition earlier this month which also included Brunei DS, Cambodia and Timor Leste.

The group stages will be held in Singapore and Thailand from January 12-17 2007 with the top two teams from each pool progressing to the home and away semi-finals on January 23-24 and January 27-28.

The final will also be played over two legs on January 31 and February 4 with the winners picking up the first prize of US$100,000.

“There will be a lot of good matches,” predicted Dato' Paul Mony Samuel, Honorary Secretary of the Asean Football Federation, after the draw in the Radisson Hotel, Bangkok.

“The tournament will be a lot closer than in previous years, you cannot underestimate any of the teams.”

John Koh, General Secretary of the Football Association of Singapore, said that the match-ups were sure to excite football fans throughout the ASEAN region with supporters of the Lions eager to see a rematch of the 2004 final.

“This tournament is wide open, all the teams have an equal chance,” he said. “This is the fifth edition of the Asean Football Championship and the gap between the countries has closed. There will be no 10-0 thrashings this time.

“There will be a lot of excitement and the closeness of the games will fascinate the supporters. The competitive nature of the tournament augurs well for the future of football in Asean. We have arrived, we have come of age.

“I am sure the fans of the Singapore national team will be excited at the prospect of seeing a rerun of the 2004 final with Indonesia.”

Group B matches will be held at the 55,000 capacity National Stadium and the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore with the Group A games being staged at the Suphachalasai Stadium and Army Stadium in Bangkok.

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