For The Record...
"In an interview with Yahoo! Singapore, Zainudin (Nordin, FAS President) reiterated that the S-league will not become a "poorer cousin" once the LionsXII start their Malaysia Cup campaign."

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Matchpix" - September 2014

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  • International Friendly: Singapore 2-1 Papua New Guinea 6/9/14
Sahil Suhaimi (center) was shielded from the ball
PNG coach Wynton Rufer was absolutely class in his dealing with the media last night after his side's gallant 2-1 loss to Singapore for taking command in the proceedings at the post-match presser and "chided" their hosts for "underestimation" of his team who were lauded for being the hungrier side.

And it is always a challenge to snap when one of the teams are decked in black outfit which would easy fused into the dark backdrop of the composition.


  • Singapore Cup SF - Balestier Khalsa 1-0 Tampines Rovers (PK 4-1) 25/9/14
Paul Cunningham (hidden) surrounded (file)
The fairy tales continued for Balestier Khalsa after they secured a berth in the RHB Singapore Cup Final, where they are going to face either Home United or Brunei DPMM on the 7th of November at Jalan Besar, after knocked out Tampines Rovers 4-1 on penalties in the semi-final at the Toa Payoh Stadium.


Friday, September 26, 2014

[Singapore Cup] Zaiful's heroics propelled Tigers to the Final

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Zaiful dived to deny Mustafic's spot-kick
The fairy tales continued for Balestier Khalsa after they secured a berth in the RHB Singapore Cup Final, where they are going to face either Home United or Brunei DPMM on the 7th of November at Jalan Besar, after knocked out Tampines Rovers 4-1 on penalties in the semi-final at the Toa Payoh Stadium last evening.

Following a nail biting end to their Round Two league fixtures that saw pipped ahead of their "Pinball" rivals, Hougang United to be among the top echelon of the league table, the Tigers had to endure another nerve-wrecking moments before making to another major Cup Final second year on running (they won the League Cup last year).

The ball hit my shin in the end after out of play
Starting the second leg of this series on a one-goal disadvantage, Balestier coach Marko Kraljevic had declared his team would opt for an attacking tactic which he felt was a more viable option.

Speaking to the official site ( before the match, the Croatian said:“When you are a goal down, you must attack from the first minute. We must score at least two goals and win the game. We need to focus on attack now,”

(L-R) Kiwis in action - Jake Butler and Paul Cunningham
It was not a surprise to see why the Tigers adapted that stance, especially they missed a chance in the first-leg, which they would have levelled the series should Goran Ljubojevic had converted his spot-kick in the dying moments at Clementi days earlier.

The match also saw the welcoming back in action for Balestier's defence lynchpin Paul Cunningham after a lengthy absence due to an operation months ago and New Zealander put up a stellar performance to keep the usual potent Tampines frontline at bay.

Cunningham's header levelled the aggregate
Hence, it was Cunningham, himself, who rose above the sea of heads in the 61st minute to head home to break the deadlock and squared one 2-2 on aggregate that saw no further goal till the end of the extra-time that led to the penultimate penalty decider.

From there onwards, it was another Balestier player who stolen the limelight of the evening.

Facing national midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman, his former Lion City Cup squad mate for the Tampines' first attempt, Zaiful Nizam dived the right way to deny the Stags before repeated the same act against Fahrudin Mustafic.

"I always learned and watched their body positioning before they took their kicks, while making sure I would not make any movement before they did." said Balestier's 'keeper-cum-captain after making those two saves and scored the final kick that propelled his team to the red-letter date in November.
Balestier's chairman Mr S Thavaneson after the win
Sharing his thoughts on how significant this victory is, the 26-year-old custodian added:"Just in my mind, I want this Cup badly, because last year we made it to the semifinals as well but lost to Home United and ended up playing in the third and fourth placing match,

"I'm proud of the team today, as everyone is working very hard and I just need to save the penalty to advance to the final."

  • The match ended 2-2 on aggregate after extra-time and proceed to the penalty decider
  • Tampines Rovers' takers: Shahdan Sulaiman (saved), Mustafic Fahrudin (saved), Jacob Butler (scored)
  • Balestier Khalsa's takers: Paul Cunningham (scored), Emir Lotinac (scored), Kim Minho (scored), Zaiful Nizam (scored)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

[Instant Reaction] Wonder if Coach Stange is happy with the 3-3?

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Screengrab off "Toggle"
The Singapore football team's hopes of staying behind after the official opening ceremony of the 17th Asian Games was given a minor boost after they scraped away with a 3-3 draw against a much superior Oman.

Knowing that another defeat after the loss to Tajikistan on Sunday would mean the Cubs will immediately have to pack their luggage home after the closing tie against Palestine.

I did not see the first three goals until the replay at half-time, although I thought it was a lapse in the defence that saw the Omanis headed home their third goal after the failure to close down on the flank to allow the ball to be floated for the routine rounding up from close range.

Safuwan saved the day (file picture)
Nonetheless, it was a great individual effort from winger Faris Ramli in the box to reduce the deficit before the interval and eventually saw Safuwan Baharudin saved the team from the skin of defeat with a header from nowhere to tie at three a piece.

Bravery and heroics aside, the fact cannot be hidden that if national coach Bernd Stange was there to see the match, I am wondering if he would be pleased to see the kind of game that was not what he has been preaching for?

On the contrary, it was the Middle-Easterners who were playing that kind of "passing-and-moving" type of football emphasized by the German and shown again how fragile the Singapore backline can be whenever they were being pressed against by the opponents who would try to thread a low grounder to unsettle the pack.

Coach Stange is on medical leave (file picture)
Furthermore, the lack of creativity upfront by the Cubs had barely troubled Oman with their static long passing game that was coupled with a number of possession lost during the process.

Rest Well, Guys and Coach Stange.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

[Asiad] In the name of development, Good Luck and Take Care...

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(This entry is formulated based on the media release issued by the Football Association of Singapore on 10th September at 2104hrs)

Hassan is going Incheon after all ...
It came not surprise after all when the list of players heading to the Asian Games (Asiad) was finally announced last evening with the national selectors finally got most of the men they wanted for the trip to Incheon.

Hassan Sunny, who in the first place wouldn't be released by his club Warriors amid the tight S.League title race, is named at the top of the 20-man list via a media release from the Football Association of Singapore after it was reported in the papers that measures were understood to be taken to ensure a "win-win situation" for both sides.

Joining the 30-year-old shot stopper from the Choa Chu Kang-based side will be the speedy Suria Prakash that alongside with Adam Swandi (of FC Metz) will the only players not from either Lions XII or Courts Young Lions that make it to the list.

Sahil Suhaimi (7) is ready for the next level?
With national coach Bernd Stange not taking charge for the regional meet on medical ground, Courts Young Lions coach Aide Iskandar, who covered the role of Stange in recent friendlies against Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong, will be tasked to lead the team in South Korea.

And the former Singapore skipper should more or less have some ideas at the back of his head having fielded a number of Asiad-eligible players over the last two games played in Hougang which were meant to be preparation for the AFF Suzuki Cup.

Aide Iskandar (right) will be leading the team to Asiad
Said Coach Aide in the same release:"We have had two good games against Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong in preparation for the Asian Games, and the boys are all hungry and raring to go. We hope to make Singapore proud in Korea,”

However, the team will not see the inclusion of midfield star Hariss Harun following the refusal by his Malaysian club Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT), citing the Asiad is an "age-group tournament" and also their ongoing Malaysia Cup campaign, despite allowing his involvement in the recent two Hougang fixtures.

In the name of development, Good Luck and Take Care...

S/N Full Name Position Age
1 Hassan Sunny GK 30
2 Rudy Khairullah GK 20
3 Shakir Hamzah DF 22
4 Fadli Kamis DF 22
5 Baihakki Khaizan DF 30
6 Afiq Yunos DF 24
7 Amirul Adli DF 18
8 Al-Qaasimy Rahman DF 22
9 Safuwan Baharudin DF 23
10 Anumanthan Mohan Kumar MF 20
11 Faris Ramli MF 22
12 Suria Prakash MF 21
13 Nazrul Nazari MF 23
14 Adam Swandi MF 18
15 Zulfahmi Arifin MF 23
16 Khairul Nizam FW 23
17 Sahil Suhaimi FW 22
18 Iqbal Hussain FW 21
19 Shahfiq Ghani FW 22
20 Shameer Aziq FW 19
(PS: Names in ORANGE are over-aged players )

Date Time Opponent Venue
14 September 2014
2.00pm (Incheon)
1.00pm (Singapore)
Tajikistan Ansan Wa Stadium
17 September 2014
8.00pm (Incheon)
7.00pm (Singapore)
Oman Hwaseong Sports Complex Main Stadium
21 September 2014
5.00pm (Incheon)
4.00pm (Singapore)
Palestine Ansan Wa Stadium

Tuesday, September 09, 2014


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(This entry is formulated based on the media release issued by the Football Association of Singapore which includes the images depicted on it)

Afiq Yunos (11) tussling for the ball (credit: FAS)
SINGAPORE, 9 SEPTEMBER 2014: The Singapore National Team played out a goalless draw with Hong Kong tonight at Hougang Stadium, with neither side doing enough to edge the game. It was the young Singapore squad’s final match before leaving for Incheon to take part in the Asian Games.

In a start reminiscent of Saturday’s match against Papua New Guinea, the home team began the game shakily with Hong Kong attacking several times early on before the hosts settled around 15 minutes in. The first meaningful Hong Kong attack came as early as the 5th minute when a pass meant for Hong Kong’s Christian Annan was intercepted just in time. Seven minutes later, Annan was again in the thick of action as he blazed a shot well over from a cut-back.

Singapore had to wait till the 21st minute for its first real chance, a speculative Shahfiq Ghani shot from 20 yards out that trickled out wide. Seven minutes later a fierce Shahfiq shot hit a Hong Kong defender and went out, but Singapore failed to capitalise on the resulting corner. It was to set the tone for a frustrating night in front of goal for Singapore.

An impressive Shahdan Sulaiman hit his first effort of the game on target in the 36th minute as he chested the ball down and attempted a half-volley that sailed into Yapp Hung Fai’s grateful arms. Shahdan then sent one of his many pinpoint free-kicks in this match onto the head of Safuwan Baharudin five minutes later, but the defender did not manage to keep his header down.

Coach Aide Iskandar, standing in for Head Coach, National Teams Bernd Stange who was still recovering from a fever, made a change at half time, replacing Shahfiq Ghani with M. Anumanthan and pushing Shahdan to a more advanced role. It paid dividends as the tenacious Anu paired well with Hariss Harun and helped Singapore to impose themselves in midfield.

Hariss almost scored in the 48th minute after releasing Faris Ramli down the right wing before galloping into space to take aim from Faris’ cross, but the shot was screwed off-target. Three minutes later, some clever interplay between Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Faris and Shahdan resulted in a shot from Sahil Suhaimi that went over the bar.

Safuwan Baharudin (21) up close in the air (credit: FAS)
Hong Kong then gave Singapore a couple of scares at the opposite end of the field in the 58th and 60th minute, with Hassan Sunny rushing out to foil Annan before substitute Kwok Kin Pong almost caught the Singapore defence napping with a header that bounced off the stanchion before Hassan claimed the rebound.

Singapore had a goal chalked off in the 64th minute as quick thinking saw the team take a swift free kick after Faris Ramli was brought down just outside the penalty area. Unfortunately for the Lions, the referee disallowed the goal, calling play back and insisting that the players had to wait for his whistle.

The teams then traded chances, with Baihakki Khaizan connecting well with a header from yet another Shahdan corner, but the experienced defender sent the ball wide. Just three minutes later, Annan again got away from his defender’s attention and sent a low shot in, but Hassan, alert to the danger, made himself big and turned the shot away for a corner.

Singapore created a few more chances in the final 10 minutes, but Hariss’ 82nd minute shot went off target after great team play saw Singapore fashion a chance after several players exchanged smart passes, and a minute later a ball deep in to the Hong Kong box caused chaos but no Singapore player could take advantage.

The last significant action of the game saw Hassan race out to claim a high ball and take out Hong Kong’s Bai He, who required medical attention and was substituted after eventually walking off the pitch groggily.

Starting Line-Ups:

Singapore: Hassan Sunny, Afiq Yunos, Safuwan Baharudin, Baihakki Khaizan, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Fazrul Nawaz, Hariss Harun, Shahdan Sulaiman, Shahfiq Ghani, Faris Ramli, Sahil Suhaimi

Hong Kong: Yapp Hung Fai, Lee Chi Ho, Fofo Agbo, Bai He, Chan Siu Ki, Lam Ka Wai, Christian Annan, Lo Kwan Yee, Cheung Kin Fung, Chan Wai Ho, Ju Yingzhi


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