Away 1998 (Tiger Cup)
Source: Small ads
Contrary to the popular Thai saying „same same, but different”, Thailand’s football shirts have been quite diverse. While the more recent jerseys have been a bit more plain, yet fantastically designed, their shirts in the 90’s mostly resembled red-and-blue fever dreams.
The country with a population comparable to France has never been able to establish themselves as a football powerhouse, not even within the AFC, where they took part in seven Asian Cups, but always failed to impress. With five titles, however, Thailand is still the most successful team of the AFF Championship, formally known as the “Tiger Cup”, a tournament exclusively for the Southeast Asian nations.
The 1998 Tiger Cup was especially interesting:
As the champion of the first edition of the cup in 1996, Thailand entered the tournament as the favorites. After drawing with Myanmar and winning the second match against Philippines, it was the last match against Indonesia that would decide the winner of group A.
Meanwhile, underdog Singapore was able to win group B, leaving the favored Vietnamese team in second place. As both Thailand and Indonesia preferred to play against Singapore in the semi-finals, a “non-aggression” was made, although, both teams eventually scored two goals. Right before the final whistle, Indonesian defender Mursyid Effendi decided that it was a good idea to deliberately score an own goal, awarding Thailand the win and with it the first place in group A. Eventually, both Thailand and Indonesia were fined $40,000 for "violating the spirit of the game", while Mursyid was banned from domestic football for one year and international football for life. Rightfully, both teams lost their semi-finals and minnow Singapore deservedly won the Tiger Cup.
The 1998 Tiger Cup will certainly not go down in history as the most glorious tournament in Thai football. At least their shirts were great, and that’s the only thing that counts for a football shirt collector!
Made by Thai manufacturer FBT, it obviously drew inspiration from Grand Sport’s jersey from the previous year. Half football shirt, half geography lesson, the design features a detailed map of Southeast Asia, some weird ornaments on the sleeves and a wavy pattern inwrought into the fabric. The blue model was only used in the semi-finals, when Thailand lost 3-0 to Vietnam. During the group stage, a red model with the same design was used.
I was lucky to find this rare jersey for a fantastic price while browsing a German small ads site.
And now I’ll have a closer look at the shirt in order to plan my next Southeast Asia holiday!