Group B of the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup has been already been labelled the Group of Death, even with the fourth team still undetermined.
Singapore, Indonesia and hosts Malaysia make up the group with the runner-up from the qualifiers also set to join in. Singapore are the record champions of the AFF Cup, Malaysia, the defending champions and Indonesia the losing finalists from the previous final. It doesn't get more competitive than that.
Here's the take on the draw from the editors
AGUNG HARSYA | INDONESIA DEPUTY EDITOR
The fan response after the draw was huge in Indonesia. They can't wait to exact some revenge on Malaysia. It's gonna be a "date" with our dear neighbor in three successive years, after AFF Suzuki Cup 2010 and SEA Games 2011. Fans over here are anticipating for the away days in November. They're directly booking plane tickets and budgeting for hotel and match tickets. I can only tell them, Malaysia would be a friendly host!
On the field, unfortunately, we can't find the same enthusiasm. Indonesian football is pretty on the edge now. Our future lies on the Joint Committee's outcome. Just to remind you, their decision has to be be recognised and legitimised by the AFC. In other words, we can't decide on our own. The impact will be on our national team. We're uncertain if the team will be made of our best players. It lies on the Joint Committee's conclusion. They had their first meeting last week but came up with no concrete decision. Second meeting is scheduled for July 24. Let's just hope it's not too late for Indonesia to prepare themselves for the tournament. Finding a resolution for the league dualism issue is now Indonesia's main focus.
FALAH ABDULLAH | MALAYSIA CHIEF EDITOR
The 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup draw saw our Malayan Tigers being grouped with main rivals, Singapore and Indonesia. The four-team Group B will be rounded up by the second best-placed team from the qualifiers.
The so called “Group of Death” will surely have whet the appetite of Malayan Tigers’ fans as duels with two of our main rivals will guarantee two things; unbeatable atmosphere and much heated battle for more than a victory but pride.
Malaysia’s talisman, Safee Sali in an exclusive with Goal.com Indonesia feels excited about the draw. He says: "This is a good chance for both teams because they will make tournament full with excitement. I hope it's going positively, the better team will win. But of course Malaysia have a slight advantage because we play in our home soil."
He was also upbeat with the young prospects in Malaysia singling out Rozaimi Abdul Rahman as a potential star to watch.
Coach Datuk K. Rajabobal on the other hand, refused to be drawn into a war of words with his Singapore counterpart, Raddy Avramovic. Raddy was quoted to have said to the New Paper a few days back that Indonesia is bigger threat to Singapore than Malaysia. Rajagobal was quoted to have said to Kosmo that he is more interested in preparing his squad for the tournament itself than to comment further on Raddy’s opinion about Malaysia.
BHAS KUNJU | SINGAPORE CHIEF EDITOR
The highs of steamrolling past Malaysia in the World Cup Qualifiers last year has since been long forgotten. A poor follow-up campaign which culminated in a winless run was made even more painful to bear in the Causeway Challenge. Late strikes in the home leg saved face for the Lions, but back in Kuala Lumpur, the second leg was a one-sided affair, that the 2-0 scoreline failed to deceive.
It's no surprise that Singapore is banking on the good form of the LionsXII for the national set-up as well. An all-LionsXII team started against the Malaysians in the second leg of the Causeway Challenge. The resulting performance however, could not have convinced the disappointed local fans.
The disastrous 2010 AFF Cup campaign resulted in a 'disbanding' of the national side, though most of the players involved have since made their way back into contention anyway. That, was the consequence of failing to progress from a relatively easy group. This time around, the Group of Death beckons and even the most loyal of Singapore fans has to admit, that a semi-final berth will be treated as nothing short of sensational.
Indonesia and Malaysia were the battling finalists from the previous edition of the competition, but the fourth team in the group, the runners-up from the qualifiers are bound to be no pushovers. Expected to be either Myanmar or Brunei, both sides could give the three bigger teams a run, especially the latter, whose shadow national side has been making quite an impact in the S.League as Brunei DPMM.
On the plus side, an intensely competitive AFF Cup might just be what's needed to draw the attention of the European leagues-loving Singapore public back on to local football.