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."

Monday, September 17, 2018

[REPOST] When "PROFESSIONAL" Was A TABOO

Nowadays, there is nothing wrong when we think any player who don't perform in the modern game by labelled him being "unprofessional".

However, it was a different thing back in the old days when the word "professional" was a TABOO.

Simply because players in those days were strictly amateur (as featured in the movie " Kallang Roar") and any form of engagement with monetary reward was strictly prohibited.

I was told by a former national player from that era how he was being implicated when a boot manufacturer used his name without his knowledge on an advertisement that almost jeopardized his place in the national team.

AFC's Teoh claimed Quah Kim Song "is a professional" in 1977 (NLB archives)
Another player from that era almost saw his place in the national team gone when he was alleged to break the code of conduct as an amateur by an official of the game's continental governing body months before the South East Asia (SEA) Games.

AUTOGRAPH SESSION
On 26th of August 1977, The Straits Times reported Singapore star Quah Kim Song "is (now) a professional", a claim made by Dato Teoh Chye Hin, the then secretary of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) following the ace striker's appearance at CK Tang, a local departmental store to sign autograph and witnessed distribution of tee-shirts apart from being featured in an advertisement to announce the aforementioned event.

Such an act, in Teoh's opinion, had breached the conduct as an amateur and led to a speculation on Quah's eligibility to represent Singapore in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games that year.

The likelihood of his main front man being banned from taking part in the biennial showpiece had the then national coach "Uncle" Choo Seng Quee worried.

Quah was involved in this CK Tang event that triggered the storm (NLB archives)
In a separate report on the broadsheet on the same day, the legendary tactician emphasized the importance of Quah by highlighted "He's our best forward and will be hard to replace him."

The then 25-year-old said he "was prepared for it" when he entered the contract with CK Tang - a decision he made after consulted several Football Association of Singapore (FAS) officials who "warned" him of the "consequences" of having the revoking of his amateur status , as reported in another article on the same page.

The whole issue dragged for weeks before a sudden "U-Turn" was made in Teoh's stance when he retracted his earlier statement on 23rd October 1977, after he claimed he "is now aware of the circumstance (then)."

ASCERTAINED AS AMATEUR
Not taking anything for granted, the FAS decided to take one step further by seeking necessary guidance from FIFA on this matter and was given the mandate by the world governing body to decide the matter themselves which they did on 3rd of November by ascertained Quah's status an amateur to close the case.

FAS ascertained Quah's status as amateur after seeking advise from FIFA in November 1977 (NLB archives)
Unfortunately, it was not a good SEA Games outing in the Malaysian capital for the national team where they lost to both Burma (5-1) and Thailand (2-0) in the football tournament.

(P.S1: This is a repost of the original entry posted back in 2010 which was deleted due to some technical reasons with some details added in this reposting.)

(P.S 2: All images were reproduced from NLB online newspapers archives, should anyone think it is inappropriate to have any of the media shown on this blog entry, please kindly email me as soon as possible and I will remove them upon request.)

(P.S 3: I stand to be corrected should there be any mistake in this entry, please feel free to email me should there be any mistake, thanks)

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Baby Step Forward Amid Voracious Skepticism

I am wondering if was it because we played both Mauritius (FIFA ranked 155th) and Fiji (165th) in our recent friendlies that the ridiculing of our football continues by some skeptics?

DIFFERENT EXPOSURE

Granted the fact that both the aforementioned countries are not known for their football powress with someone even thought it was a rugby match when we took on the Fijians last evening, the two virtually unknown sides did, however, give Singapore national team some much-needed workouts in preparing for the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup.

Baihakki Khaizan (5) restraining Fijian captain Roy Krishna
Instead of the "usual who" kind of opponents, I thought it was a refreshing change to see games against teams which allowed the Lions to expose to some robust kind of football aided by the opponents' much superior physical frames.

It was probably this kind of exposure that made a good introduction to a different level of football between the domestic and international one for debutantes like the Suzliman brothers with elder Zulfadhmi grabbed some of the limelights with his decent performance against Mauritius on the last Friday at the Bishan Stadium.

Ikhsan Fandi (center) scored in both Mauritius and Fiji game.
Barring the early slip that resulted the opener by former Etoile FC striker Jonathan Justin, the pairing of Safuwan Baharudin and Irfan Fandi, who was replaced by Baihakki Khaizan in the second half due to an injury, helped to stabilize the fort and covered Izwan Mahbud (later Hassan Sunny) well in the same match.

"BEST PERFORMANCE IN TWO YEARS": FAN
This departs from the "tendency redeployment" of Safuwan in the middle of any game to help out in the attacks during the time of previous Lions' coach V Sundram moorthy, thus enabled the Pahang defender to concentrate on his defensive duties.

Such stability was crucial to see Singapore picked themselves up quickly after the early jitters in the Mauritius game to see a much better performance in the second half on a wet, soggy surface to level the game through Ikhsan Fandi's first international goal in the 75th minute.

Shahril Ishak (17) met with resistance from Fijian's defenders
Hariss Harun (14) tussling with Fiji's Dave Radrigai (24)
"This was the best performance by the Singapore national team in two years," said a fan who wanted to be known as UAQC on his assessment after the match against the 'Les Dodos' (the nickname of Mauritius team). "I am impressed with the performance by (left back) Shakir Hamzah who shown the courage to take on players bigger than any of our local players."

"Credit must also gave to Shahril Ishak too, as he transformed the game after he came on in the second half, like the ball he set up for Ikhsan to level the score (in the 75th minute) which proved experience is still vital in this preparation for Suzuki Cup." he added.

MAHLER'S IMPRESSIVE DEBUT
The following game against Fiji not only saw national interim coach Fandi Ahmad made couple of changes in the starting eleven and also witnessed the international debut of the highly-rated 18-year-old Jacob Mahler in middle of the park.

Partnering skipper Hariss Harun in midfield, the Young Lions midfielder did not appear intimidated by those stocky built Pacific islanders.

In fact, so impressive was Mahler's debut that his performance even overshadowed that of the JDT stalwart, some observers claimed.

Mahler repaid faith shown on him by "Abang"
Said UAQC after the Fijian match:"Mahler was outstanding in this match with his display of composure despite being his first cap for Singapore."

"I would say he (Mahler) did well to make Hariss (Harun) looked ordinary in this game with his linking up in the attacking moves as soon as he disrupted the Fijians' momentum." the assistant engineer commented after the Lions won the match 2-0 with goals from Hariss and Ikhsan.

The win over the Bula Boys (the nickname of Fiji team) was the first for Coach Fandi since he took over the national hot seat back in May on interim basis and up next will see the Lions take on Mongolia on 12th of October before heading off to Phnom Penh to play Cambodia on 16th of October as part of the Suzuki Cup preparation.

Friday, August 31, 2018

"Matchpix" - August 2018

  • AFC Cup - Home United 2-0 Ceres–Negros FC 080818
Shahrin Saberin (18) skipped across a Ceres player in this move
Home United Football Club beat Ceres-Negros FC 2-0 in the second-leg of the AFC Cup Asean Zonal Final and qualified for the next stage of the tournament on a 3-1 aggregate.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REST OF THE MATCH PICTURES

  • AFC Cup - Home United 0-2 "4.25" SC 210818
HUFC's Song Ui-young (8) tussling with Pak Jin-myong of 4.25
It was a different ball game when Home United Football Club progressed to the inter-zonal stages of the AFC Cup tournament. The Protectors lost 2-0 in the first-leg of the series against 4.25 SC from DPRK.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REST OF THE MATCH PICTURES

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Singaporeans' Hong Kong League Debut In Nov 1950

"The Kung Sheung Daily News" report on the Singaporeans' debut for Kitchee on November 1950
This is a follow up entry on the post regarding the seven Singaporean players who played for Kitchee SC in Hong Kong First Division back in the 1950s.

"Hong Kong Football History Society", the Facebook Page that contributed the old newspaper clippings to the said entry back last month, posted a summary on the Singaporeans' debut in the then British Crown Colony on 12th November 1950.

The summary was based on the match report filed by "The Kung Sheung Daily News" (工商日報) dated 13th November 1950.

THE "TIGER BALM" CONNECTION
At the begining of the summary, it was revealed that the recruitment of the Singaporeans was the brainchild of the late Aw Hoe (胡好) of the famed "Tiger Balm" Aw family despite at that point of time he had already exited from the Hong Kong football scene and returned to Singapore in July 1950.

"Not willing to see the defending 'double-winners' (Kitchee was both the league champions and Hong Kong Senior Challenge Shield winners in the previous season) fallen apart, Aw decided to invite Chu Chee Seng (朱志成), [... names of the rest of the contingent] to come to Hong Kong to play for Kitchee." said the summary.

The Aw Hoe monument at Haw Par Villa
It added goalkeeper Chu was the most reputable among the seven of them for his distinction being one of the those represented Republic of China in the 1948 London Olympics Games and a disciple of Pau Ka Ping (包家平), a renowned Hong Kong custodian in the 1920s.

Upon their arrival in Hong Kong on the 6th of November, the Singapore contingent had their first training session with their new team at the Hong Kong Football Club Stadium on the next day before making their debut on the 12th.

SELL-OUT DEBUT FOR THE SINGAPOREANS
The excitement surrounded the Singaporean players caused a sensation among the local fans.

When it was announced they were due to make their first appearance against title favourites Kowloon Bus (KB) at Fa Hui Stadium, it was an immediate sell-out with some ticket holders were being denied entry after a "red flag" was raised for safety reasons.

Match picture from "The Kung Sheung Daily News" depicted Chu Chee Seng making save during his debut
In the end, six of the newly-recruited players made their debut for the 4.30pm game with Kitchee took the initiative to fire the first salvo with Awang Bakar (known as "Tong Wong" 唐旺 in the local press) ballooned his attempt after received a threaded pass from the middle, swift reciporcal moves were made by KB shortly after only to be frustrated by heroics of Chu to ensure both sides headed to the dressing room on a clean sheet at the interval.

The deadlock was eventually untied in the 57th minute with KB took the lead with an easy tap-in that triggered Kitchee to stage their own rounds of offenses which were futile.

UNFAMILIARITY AND TACTICS MARRED THE DEBUT
Things took a worse turn when Lee Chun Fatt (李春發) doubled the score in the 70th minute before Awang headed home from near distance to reduce the deficit five minutes later and pushed the game to a fever pitch till the referee signalled the end of the game with the score 2-1 in favour of KB.

"Overall, Kitchee could not match head to head with Kowloon Bus despite having the Singaporeans in their line-up," wrote the summary in summing the match in Kowloon. "If not for the saves made by Chu Chee Seng, it would have been a bigger margin for the winning side."

A Lianhe Zaobao feature on Chu Chee Seng in 1992 (NLB archives)
Apparently, Chu earned the accolade as the best performer for Kitchee on that November afternoon and suggested Kitchee's coach made a mistake to field six Singaporeans (except for Ho Hin Weng 何慶榮) at one go when they were not gelling up with the rest of the team who deployed a "man-marking" tactic unsuccessfully to counter a more fluid, short passing game favoured by KB.

"Perhaps, having just arrived (in Hong Kong) and yet to establish an understanding with their new team mates, the Singaporeans were not able to show what they are capable of in this game in which Kitchee were struggling in the midfield with 'Tong Wong' (Awang) left stranded up front." added the summary.

Some of the players' names were established
After a scoreless draw against Eastern in their next game, the Singapore contingent won their first match for Kitchee when they beat Kwong Wah in a 3-2 close shaver.

For their good showing in the league, both Chu and Awang were featured in a friendly match when they represented the Hong Kong League Selection in a 4-2 defeat to Swedish club Djurgårdens on 6th of December 1950.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT 
I would like to express my gratitude to Hong Kong Football History Society (香港足球史學會) for the permission granted to reproduce the two images of "The Kung Sheung Daily News" (工商日報) shown here and Mr Edmund Fung for his assistance in this entry as well.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Several Changes Named in the SOS Cup 2018

More changes are being made to the Singapore Selection in the upcoming Sultan of Selangor's Cup tournament at the end of the month.

After their last week's victory over Ceres-Negros in the AFC Cup tournament, Home United will have to omit their representation from the annual showdown in Shah Alam in order to concentrate their continental match against North Korea's 4.25 SC on the 21st of August at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Both Izzdin Shafiq (13) and Shahril Ishak (17) have to withdraw from the Shah Alam trip
The Singapore Selection will be helmed by Balestier Khalsa's Marko Kraljevic instead of Protectors' tactician Aidil Sharin, as reported by Fox Sports Asia.

ALL JAPANESE IMPORTS IN SINGAPORE SELECTION
On top of that, the likes of Tampines Rovers' Syazwan Buhari, Hafiz Sujad, Warriors FC's Emmeric Ong and Albirex Niigata (Singapore)'s Wataru Murofushi are some of those named as the replacement for Home United absentees in the 21-man squad who are scheduled to leave for Selangor state capital on the 24th of August, as understood by this blog.

Wataru Murofushi (8) is named in the Singapore Selection
The inclusion of Murofushi will see all foreigner slots in the Singapore Selection made up entirely by the Japanese players which included Kento Fukuda (Warriors FC), Ryutaro Megumi (Tampines Rovers) and his White Swan squad mate Shuhei Hoshino.

LAST MINUTE PULLOUT IS COMMON
However, it is not uncommon to see changes at the eleventh hour for this tournament like back in 2013 when Hanafi Salleh and Armanizam Dolah were called up as last minute replacements for those pulled out last minute.

The yearly event will take place on the 25th of August will feature the traditional curtain-raiser match between the veterans of both Singapore and Selangor, followed by the main match between the Singapore and Selangor Selection teams.

The Singapore-Selangor Schools Challenge Cup, which was introduced last year, will be competed at the Shah Alam Stadium for the first time by Under-16 boys from both sides.

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