The Singapore national football team formed as early as 1892 as an amateur team, the first of its kind in Asia. The modern team began in 1952, the same time as it affiliated to FIFA. Singapore joined the Asian Football Confederation two years later in 1954.
Singapore’s first international action came in the HMS Malaya Cup, a competition launched in 1921 by a British battleship’s company. Though the team that entered was not Singapore’s official squad, most regard it as a national team. The team was known as the Singapore Lions, and returned to the Cup in 2012 as Singapore LIONS XII. The LIONS XII are distinct from the official national side as foreign players are permitted.
In recent history, Singapore has mainly competed in local Asian tournaments. The team’s greatest achievement came in the 1998 Tiger Cup. After a great campaign, Singapore beat Vietnam 1-0 to win the title. The team repeated this feat in 2004 after several years of decline. Singapore defied the odds to reach the final and beat Indonesia 5-2 over two legs. Singapore’s success in the competition continued after it was re-branded the Suzuki Cup. The now experienced team beat Thailand in the final, 3-1 on aggregate.
Singapore has a long history in world cup qualification. The team has entered every campaign since 1978 and played over 50 world cup qualifiers. The team has reached the third round of qualifying several times but not yet appeared at the finals.