Football is without a doubt the most popular sport among Singaporeans, and many unforgettable matches have taken place at the National Stadium in Singapore Sports Hub over the years.
2022 was especially memorable. With the easing of COVID-19 measures, fans got to once again catch the World Cup screenings at OCBC Square, and rooted for Liverpool and Crystal Palace in-person, as the two English clubs vied for the Standard Chartered Singapore Trophy 2022.
Here are the events that make football season an all-year-round affair at Singapore Sports Hub, the heart of football in Singapore.
The AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 was one of the most-attended events during the COVID-19 pandemic.
AFF SUZUKI CUP 2020
Postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 edition of the biennial ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup took place between 5 December 2021 and 1 Jan 2022. The sell-out crowd of around 10,000 spectators eagerly cheered on Thailand and Timor Leste in the tournament’s opening match, followed by Singapore versus Myanmar later in the evening.
While making up merely a fraction of the National Stadium’s 55,000 seating capacity, the 10,000 fans constituted the largest gathering since the pandemic started in 2020. The excitement continued across the full 26 matches all the way to the final, which saw Thailand trouncing rivals Indonesia with an aggregate score of 6-2 across two legs – the highest-scoring final ever in the tournament, and the largest margin of victory.
With the support of fans, the Singapore national team won the FAS Tri-Nations Series.
FAS TRI-NATIONS SERIES
The 2022 Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Tri-Nations Series, held between 23 and 29 March 2022, saw Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore battle it out, as part of the precursor for the 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup’s third-round qualification matches. Under the guidance of interim coach and former Lion Nazri Nasir, Singapore defeated the Philippines 2-0 and before that, Malaysia 2-1, to win the men’s competition at the National Stadium. Safuwan Bahrudin and Shawal Anuar scored the goals that saw Singapore winning the tournament over a 10-man Philippines team, which lost defender Diego Bardanca to two yellow cards by the 39th minute.
Playing on home turf can make a difference to a team’s morale: Not only is the home team familiar with the ground and its conditions, the cheering from home fans offers a significant home ground advantage. According to some psychologists, cheering crowds can provide a shot of adrenaline that boosts exhausted athletes’ stamina – just what a footballer might need when a match is closing in on the 90th minute.
Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 2-0 to take the Standard Chartered Singapore Trophy 2022.
STANDARD CHARTERED SINGAPORE TROPHY 2022
The English Premier League came to town in July 2022, when English clubs Liverpool and Crystal Palace faced off at the National Stadium for the Standard Chartered Singapore Trophy 2022. That match saw 50,217 spectators filling the stands with their cheering, especially as the 47th minute saw Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah scoring. According to estimates, it was the largest crowd at a single sports event in Singapore since the pandemic started. Even the open training session was well-attended, with an estimated 12,000 people showing up to watch the Reds prepare.
Young participants of the HEARTS 5-A-Side Football Cup 2022 having a great time on the National Stadium pitch.
SPORTCARES HEARTS 5-A-SIDE FOOTBALL CUP 2022
Sport Singapore’s philanthropic arm, SportCares, celebrated its 10th anniversary in July 2022 by organising the HEARTS 5-A-Side Football Cup in partnership with GetActive! Singapore. Featuring five categories — U-10 Mixed, U-12 Mixed, U-17 Boys, Men’s Open and Women’s Open — the 5-versus-5 competition took place at the National Stadium, with families and friends cheering for their loved ones on the pitch.
Of the 64 teams, 38 were from SportCares’ sponsors and community partners, while the remaining teams comprised of participants of SportCares’ Saturday Night Lights and Community Futsal Programme – thus bringing together people from all walks of life to celebrate the power of football as a force for good. Regardless of the final scores, SportCares’ beneficiaries did themselves proud by displaying the organisation’s RIDER values – Respect, Integrity, Discipline, Empathy and Resilience – in every match played.
Fans gathered to catch the World Cup final between Argentina and France at OCBC Square.
World Cup Screenings
Held every four years, World Cup 2022 took place in Qatar, but in Singapore, the fan-fuelled atmosphere could be found closer to home — at Singapore Sports Hub’s OCBC Square, where free live screenings of the quarter-finals, semi-finals, third-place match and grand final took place.
While the World Cup was full of twists and turns that kept spectators glued to their screens, those watching at OCBC Square enjoyed more than just football. Besides fun contests and pre-game engagement from former national players, freestyle footballers came out to wow the all-ages crowd with acrobatic tricks and stunts.
“Watching the World Cup with fellow football fans is a totally different experience from watching it on your sofa at home,” said Joe Ng, 49, who watched the final between Argentina and France at OCBC Square. “The feeling of cheering alongside an entire crowd is unbeatable, and not to mention, the energy levels are on a different scale altogether. The activities and entertainment further enhanced the experience.”