As the balance of power in the AFF Suzuki Cup has shifted to and fro over the years, there have been plenty of surprises along the way, adding to the drama and excitement of a competition in which regional rivalry reaches fever pitch. 

With anticipation building towards the 2018 edition, we take a trip down memory lane to pick out five of the biggest upsets over the 11 tournaments. After reliving the classic encounters, don’t forget to vote for your favourite in our poll at the end of the article.   

1. Myanmar claim precious point (December 10, 2004, Kuala Lumpur)

Having won three of the first four AFF Championships, including the previous two, Thailand were again the team to beat in 2004, while few would have expected anything from a Myanmar side that had never qualified from the group stage, so when Therdsak Chaiman gave the Thais an early lead in their Group B clash, all was going to form.

As the clocked ticked down, the War Elephants appeared to have wrapped up the three points, but with the game in its 89th minute, Zaw Linn Tun eqialised to stun the Thais and claim an invaluable point. Myanmar went on to beat Malaysia in their next group match and eventually advanced to the last four while Thailand, for the first time, were eliminated in the first round.

2. Singapore deny Thailand fourth title (February 4, 2007, Bangkok)

While Singapore had gone into the 2007 tournament as holders, they were not firing on all cylinders. Indeed, the Lions reached the final having won just one game – an 11-0 thrashing of Laos – as they drew their four other matches and needed penalties to get past Malaysia in the semi-finals.

Thailand, meanwhile, had conceded just once on their march to the final, but goals from Noh Alam Shah and Fahrudin Mustafic gave Singapore a superb 2-1 first-leg win. Then, with the Thais one up in the second leg in Bangkok and on course for their fourth title, Khairul Amri netted in the final 10 minutes to silence Suphachalasai Stadium as Singapore were crowned champions.

3. Laos come oh so close (December 1, 2010, Jakarta)

Ahead of the 2010 edition, Thailand had reached five of the seven finals and only failed to navigate the group stage once, while Laos had never gone beyond the first round. After a goalless first half in their Group A opener in Jakarta, Konekham Inthammaving’s 53rd-minute header rocked Bryan Robson’s Thailand, but Sarayuth Chaikamdee levelled soon after.

Incredibly, Kanlaya Sysomvang’s scorching strike from the edge of the area with nine minutes to play put the Laotians on course for all three points, only for Sarayuth to deny David Booth’s side one of the biggest upsets in the competition’s history when he headed home his brace in added time. Both teams would ultimately exit but Laos departed following a historic result.

4. Philippines stun holders (December 5, 2010, Hanoi)

Often described as the turning point in Philippines football, with a strong claim to being the biggest upset the AFF Suzuki Cup has ever seen, the Azkals’ 2-0 victory over Vietnam in 2010 was one that lives long in the memory. Not only were the holders soundly beaten, it happened on Vietnamese territory in front of 40,000 expectant fans in Hanoi.

Never before had the Philippines advanced past the group stage but, after a commendable 1-1 draw with Singapore, Chris Greatwich headed the underdogs in front late in the first half. Vietnam pushed for the equaliser, leaving holes at the back, allowing Phil Younghusband to capitalise with 11 minutes remaining and seal the “Miracle of Hanoi”.

5. Malaysia produce thrilling comeback (December 11, 2014, Hanoi)

Malaysia qualified for the 2014 semi-finals by the narrowest of margins, with a pair of stoppage-time goals in Singapore enough to claim their first win and book a date with Vietnam. But they were brought back down to earth in Shah Alam as Vietnam ran out 2-1 winners in Malaysia in the first leg of the semi-finals. A 45-minute blitz in Hanoi, though, would turn the tie on its head.

With four minutes gone in the return meeting, Safiq Rahim gave the Malaysians hope by opening the scoring from the spot, before Norshahrul Idlan put the visitors in front on aggregate. Le Cong Vinh restored parity overall but an own goal and Muhammad Shukor’s header had Malaysia in dreamland by half-time as they eventually won 4-2 and 5-4 on aggregate.