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Lion City Sailors ACL Dream Fades in Bangkok

by: EdwardB


In the heart of Thailand’s Thammasat Stadium, the Lion City Sailors embarked on a crucial quest for qualification in the Asian Champions League (ACL). The stakes were high as they faced Bangkok United on November 29, fully aware that a loss would shatter their dreams of progressing to the next round.

Match Overview

The Sailors, hailing from the Singapore Premier League (SPL), displayed tenacity throughout the encounter. Despite a valiant effort, their hopes were dashed by Rungrath Poomchantuek’s 86th-minute free-kick goal. The defeat left head coach Aleksandar Rankovic disappointed in the result but immensely proud of his team’s performance.

Group Standings

The impact of the defeat was compounded by Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors’ 2-1 win over Kitchee SC earlier in the day. As the Sailors faced the reality of finishing third in Group F, the dream of advancing to the knockout phase slipped away. The standings revealed the Sailors in third place with six points, Jeonbuk in second with nine, and Bangkok securing their historic qualification at the top with an impressive 13 points.

Qualification Scenarios

The intricate dance of ACL qualification unfolded, highlighting the stringent criteria for advancement. With only the group winners and three best runners-up securing a spot in the round of 16, the Sailors faced a mathematical impossibility of overtaking Jeonbuk, their goal difference in head-to-head matches proving an insurmountable barrier.

Next Steps for Teams

As Bangkok celebrated its historic qualification, attention turned to their upcoming clash with Jeonbuk in South Korea on December 13. Meanwhile, the Lion City Sailors geared up for their final group match against Kitchee. Despite the impossibility of advancing, the Sailors aimed to conclude their ACL journey on a positive note.

Game Highlights and Challenges

The drama on the field was palpable, with moments of suspense and missed opportunities defining the Sailors’ encounter with Bangkok United. VAR intervention ruled out a goal for Bangkok, providing the Sailors with a reprieve. In the 83rd minute, forward Shawal Anuar had a clear chance to alter the course of the game, but his shot was straight at the goalkeeper.

The Sailors faced a formidable challenge from the onset, pitted against a Bangkok United side unbeaten in 15 matches across various competitions, leading the Thai League 1 with seven wins and two draws from nine matches.

Remaining Opportunities for Sailors

As ACL dreams dimmed, the Lion City Sailors found solace in the prospect of domestic silverware. Their focus shifted to the Singapore Cup, where they are set to clash with Tampines Rovers in a two-legged semi-final on December 3. Despite ACL setbacks, the Sailors remain determined to leave an indelible mark on the local football scene.


In the aftermath of defeat in Bangkok, the Lion City Sailors reflect on their ACL journey, acknowledging the uphill battle against formidable opponents. The team’s resilience and determination, evident even in the face of insurmountable odds, serve as a testament to their spirit. As they redirect their focus to the Singapore Cup, the Sailors aim to build on the experience gained in the ACL and carry the momentum into the domestic arena.

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