SINGAPORE: The Lions returned from Bangkok to a hero’s welcome at Changi Airport on Sunday, after lifting the AFF Suzuki Cup for an unprecedented fourth time.
Singapore won the 2—leg final 3—2 on aggregate, against the more—fancied Thais.
"I am proud to come back here. The fans are crazy, they welcome us back... for me, the only thing was to bring the Cup back to our homeland," said team captain Shahril Ishak.
Some 600 fans and officials gathered at Changi Airport’s Terminal 3 to welcome home the victorious Lions.
Among them was Acting Culture, Community and Youth Minister Lawrence Wong.
"It is a wonderful year for sports; we had significant achievements and it is very nice to be capping off with this very wonderful achievement," commented Mr Wong.
The national footballers then went on a victory parade through the city centre.
The open—top bus made its way along the Orchard Road shopping belt, stopping just outside Ngee Ann City mall, for fans to get close to the players.
"Hopefully this will spur Singapore football to greater heights, good for them!" said Colynn Chew, a fan at the victory parade.
"I hope this a platform for the team, not only for the team but the rest who are considering local football," commented Md Norman, who was also at the victory parade.
The team then proceeded to Jalan Besar Stadium, where more than a thousand fans gathered to join the celebrations.
Amidst the celebrations, fans sang a belated birthday song for coach Raddy Avramovic, who turned 63 on 29 November.
The players also had a parting gift for the loyal supporters, as they kicked autographed balls into the stands.
"I think in the two games, we were a better team and we fully deserve to win championship," said Avramovic.
The AFF title win has also boosted Singapore’s FIFA World Ranking from 163 to the current 154.
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