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."

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Proposed FAS Constitution Put On HOLD for 'Further DIscussion'

(L-R) Zainudin Nordin and Bernand Tan
The much-anticipated proposed constitution was not put into discussion when the motion on it was removed abruptly from the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) Annual General Meeting (AGM) held earlier at its Jalan Besar Stadium (JBS) headquarters.

Explaining the reason of the removal of the cornerstone topic from the AGM, FAS Vice-President Bernand Tan said it was “not easy to decide” citing factors like feedback from the members at the very late hours.

NOT TO BE TAKEN LIGHTLY
“It (the proposed constitution) is something should not be taken lightly and it is not easy to decide (the removal of the motion on it) when there are members requested 'more time' till yesterday night (for further discussions).” said Tan in the media conference held right after the conclusion of the AGM.

When prompted on whether the local game governing body had set a time frame on confirming the said constitution that is to align itself with what FIFA requires from its member associations that forbids any form of third-party involvement such as government interference which saw bans served in the past to neighbouring countries like Indonesia and Brunei.

CONSTANT ENGAGING WITH MEMBERS
“Before the new constitution (is approved), it will be governed by the old constitution,” said Tan, who was joined by outgoing FAS President Zainudin Nordin in the media briefing, resonated that existing one is endorsed by the world governing body.

“It will be a lengthy process and there is no time frame for this as countries like Japan and Australia took years before having one which is something we might had underestimated in the first place,

“We will be writing to all our members as we will continue in our engagement with them on this issue.” he added while divulged some issues brought up by clubs such as the number of members that will form the FAS council, the criteria of the office-holder for the post of the president, etc.

Earlier on, Zainudin gave his last opening speech as the president in the AGM that took place in the VIP Lounge in the JBS.

Some of the key things highlighted in that speech by the former Member of Parliament included the importance of both National Football League (NFL) and Island Wide League (IWL) in the local football ecosystem, further improvement to be made in schools' and women's football.

Following that, Balestier Khalsa's chairman S Thavaneson, in his capacity as a FAS Council member, presented the financial statements to delegates that saw a few of them raised their opinions in the open discussion in particular over the budgeting issues.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

[AFC Cup] Brave Stags Ended Their Asian Dreams Painfully But Gracefully

Izwan Mahbud ended his first club continental venture
Without any doubt, it was a painful exit from the tournament that saw Tampines Rovers ended their continental campaign in the hands of Bengaluru FC of India after a goal-less affair which allowed the latter to cruise to the AFC Cup semi-final stage on a wafer-thin advantage of an aggregate score of one goal to none.

Nonetheless, the Stags shouldn't be faulted for tried all means to put themselves back on level terms when they signalled their intention right from the start with the series of offenses they launched towards the team from Bangalore who elected to opt for a safety first approach by being the absorber of those raids.

Amrinder Singh (1) raised above all to fist the ball 
Hafiz Abu Sujad (16) tried his luck from a distance
Such conservative tactics seems to serve the Indian side well as the designated home team who were left frustrated on countless of occasions on those chances they failed to convert throughout the game.

When asked after the match if such execution of plan by their opponents was a successful one against his luckless side, Tampines' coach Akbar Nawas felt otherwise.

“Do you think so?” replied Coach Akbar when the question was fielded by a member of the media. “I think they (Bengaluru) were tenacious in closing down our attacks by disrupting our midfield, so I don't think so.”

John Johnson (left) got Irwan Shah (right) covered
However, the former NFA staff coach acknowledged his side's continuing lack of firepower of late, a stark contrast of what it was usually associated to his side at the start of the year.

"We will have to go into deeper analysis, both technically and mentally, to find out the reason why (we couldn't score)," lamented Coach Akbar on those ruined opportunities which he attributed to reasons like the absence of key players like striker Fazrul Nawaz and midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman.

Despite crushing out from the tournament, it is definitely one of the better showings in this second-tier club competition by the five-time S.League champions in recent years who last made it to the quarter-final stage back in 2007 against Al-Faisaly of Jordan.

Johnson (left) tussled with Yasir Hanapi (13) for the ball
That is something the 40-year-old tactician would want to draw some positivities from this run.

“We tried our best and played our hearts out and the players deserved a pat on their back for the efforts shown that I hope this run will extend from here.” added Coach Akbar whose side will resume their league fixtures on 1st of October when they take on defending champions Brunei DPMM at Jurong West.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

[Singapore Cup] Albirex Kept Unprecedented Dream Alive After Tepid Win ...

Anxious moments for Balestier (yellow)
It was not the best game to be shown on live television but it really does not matter when you were able to get the job done at the end of the day like Albirex Niigata (Singapore) did at Toa Payoh earlier.

One would expect the Japanese side to go all out to secure a bigger buffer in the second-leg of RHB Singapore Cup semi-final match against Balestier Khalsa whom they had a wafer-thin one-goal advantage carried into this match.

Atsushi Kawata (left) closely monitored 
But none of that urgency was shown in the match that was best described as uninspiring and tepid encounter which most would not associated to the usual intensity of a Cup game.

Barred for some anxious moments in the Balestier's penalty area in the first half when Albirex found themselves tried to break down the Tigers' resilience at the back, there wasn't much action to keep the sporadic crowds at the ground or viewers at home at the edge of their seats.

Ho Wai Loon (right) kept things check against Tatsuro Inui
So much so when substitute Rui Kumada headed home in the 82nd minute to make the score two-nil on aggregate, there was barely any euphoria erupted in this stadium and things proceeded as per normal after the match was restarted before referee W Ravisanthiran blew to end the game following four minutes of stoppage added on.

With this victory, the reigning League Cup holders confirmed their berth in the Cup final where they will be facing Tampines Rovers, their closest rivals in the S.League title as well.

When asked if it would be a concern for his side to take on the Stags twice in four days apart in late October with the potential title race decider on the 26th followed by the final on the 29th , Albirex's coach Naoki Naruo elected to stay focused on their next league fixture against Geylang International on 22nd of this month.

Niko Tokic (left) in tussle with Shuto Inaba
Said the 42-year-old tactician:“My focus will be on our next game against Geylang (International) and to win as many points as possible in our remaining matches.”

“I am happy with the tonight's result and it was a difficult match when it was played on natural turf (unlike the artificial surface at Jurong East) that we were not able to play our usual passing game, but I am satisfy with the team's overall performance this evening.” he added.

Friday, September 09, 2016

[Event] Battle Of Europe Set to Rock This November ...

(This entry is formulated by the media release issued by Full Circle PR, the PR agency for the "Battle Of Europe 2016")

(L-R) Karl-Heinz Riedle and Darren Anderton
Leading up to the highly-anticipated showdown of one of the greatest footballing rivalries will see England Masters take on their German counterparts – a match that is set to bring fans back down to the memory lane with arrays of stars from yesteryears ready to thrill them this coming November at Kallang.

As part of the building up to the match - Battle Of Europe, which is to be played on the 12th of November at the National Stadium, former German international Karl-Heinz Riedle alongside ex-England and Tottenham Hotspur star Darren Anderton made their appearance at the media conference held this afternoon at Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, the event official hotel.

(L-R) Steve Black having a chat with Riedle
In his opening speech, Steven Black, the CEO of Masters Football Asia (the match organizers) said:“Football is in the DNA of the people here. Fans here have always been supportive and we welcome that.

“This summer we’ve had big international events like the Euros and the Olympics, and this international feeling has been the main catalyst for us bringing the Battle Of Europe to Singapore.

“We’ve had great fun putting the teams together – they’re very competitive teams – and there are more names to be announced.” he added.

Anderton capped for England 30 times
Riedle was known for his heading ability
At the time of this publication, some of those players (subject to availability) slated to make their trip to Singapore read the likes of David James (ex-England and Liverpool 'keeper), Teddy Sheringham (former Tottenham and Manchester United striker), Dietmar Hamann (ex-Germany and Liverpool midfielder) with former German World Cup winning skipper Lothar Matthaus to grace the occasion, as well.

Relishing the opportunity again to represent Germany against one of their greatest rivals in the sport, Riedle said:“It’s a pleasure to be able to come here to play against a great nation like England. For Germany, playing against England is always a big deal, and we’re hoping for the match to be a really big success.”

Echoed the similar sentiment is Anderton when he added on to the former World Cup winning striker's thought.

Said the 44-year-old:“I am really looking forward to it. It’s great being in Singapore, and the rivalry is a massive one.”

MATCH DETAILS
Event: Battle Of Europe – England Masters vs Germany Masters
Date: 12 November 2016, Saturday
Time: Gates open at 5.30pm, kick-off at 7pm

TICKETING DETAILS
Tickets for Battle Of Europe 2016 presented by Masters Football Asia are available at www.mastersfootball.com and Sports Hub Tix
www.sportshub.com.sg/sportshubtix/Pages/Masters-Football-2016.aspx.

Tickets start from $19; family packages (two adults & two children below the age of 12) are available at $100 and VIP Packages at $200. Sports Hub Tix and NETS are also running promotions to win exclusive VIP experiences, and fans are advised to purchase tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Spread Out OR Remained Parochial In Fan Engaging?

We tried but it has been largely a futile effort to see some clubs fused into the vicinity they based despite the reaching out that yield limited progress over the years. Just name me a list of which club had been able to mobilize the whole town to their home game when there is one?

It may have come to a juncture that building rapport with nearby residents isn't really a workable model that clubs should cast their net wider to tap on those unearthed fan base, not necessarily being parochial.

AWKWARDLY LOCATED ...
Given the small land area Singapore has, it has proven to be a challenge to create those cross town or regional rivalry we seen in other countries. Furthermore, the constant dynamism in the electoral boundaries has neither help to foster a sense of belonging (Take one example in Hougang Stadium - located in Ang Mo Kio GRC, bordered by Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC).

Politically, Hougang Stadium isn't part of Hougang SMC
Given our relatively homogeneous demographic composite in terms of social classes, it's unlikely to see the type of support we see in Argentine clubs like River Plate who represents the affluence class with their fiercest rivals Boca Juniors draw their backing from mainly working class.

Of course, clubs shall never be seen as themselves aligned to specific political ideology too.

Rather, it's important how the clubs would want to be portrayed themselves in order to appeal to a wider fan base.

Looking at our own backyard, don't we also having teams with such colorful background like Geylang International, Tampines Rovers and Balestier Khalsa which is evolved throughout generations from Fathul Karib back in 1898?

GEYLANG BANK ON HERITAGE ...
Suggested by a friend in one of recent conversations I had with, he shared some ideas.

He proposed:"Tampines can be known for, let's say being 'The Galacticos', given the array of big signings they made this season,"

"Geylang International can identify themselves as a club of rich heritage for having names like former Lions skippers Fandi Ahmad, Razali Saad, 'Russian Tank' Borhan Abu Samah D Tokijan, etc. during their heydays.

Geylang International was once the titans of the land (file)
"With Balestier who is known for their youth development and could earning revenue by developing and selling youths to other clubs." added my friend in a tongue-in-cheek manner.

HONG KONG EXAMPLES ...
More examples we could think of are two Hong Kong club sides - South China and Kitchee whom local fans are familiar with in recent years.

Owning its long lasting presence since 1904, it's not surprise to see South China, the team nicknamed "Shaolin Temple", accumulated supporters from all over Hong Kong with mammoth 41 First Division League titles starting from 1923-24 season to boost their stature ever since.

South China of Hong Kong was founded in 1904 (file)
Following their return to top flight in 2003, Kitchee SC (founded in 1931) have gone from strength to strength to see themselves as strong challenger to South China for dominance in various aspects of Hong Kong football.

Just like Singapore, the Chinese SAR is small in terms of land area but with a congested population and while there maybe clubs in the territory’s Premier League featuring teams representing districts like Yuen Long, Tai Po, etc. those two mentioned powerhouses of Hong Kong football do not confined to any particular region for their supporting base.

Kitchee supporters at JBS (file)
I believe much of that appeal could be on how both teams portrayed themselves to win over their fans.

It is likely because Kitchee is seen as a new emerging power to compete on par with South China who witnessed many of their past nemesis like Seiko in 1970s to 1980s, Instant-Dict in 1990s, etc. went either into the history books or oblivion.

Juventus graced Kallang in 2014 (file)
The "Grand Old Lady" of Italian football - Juventus, is another one such example that proven their fan base is not concentrated in the city of Turin from where they are hailed from but other parts of Italy too.

If this 2002 survey shown in this site is still valid, it claimed "I Bianconeri" enjoys widespread support from regions outside Piedmont region and even in the Lombardy region where both Inter and AC Milan are based.

"WE DON'T PROMOTE FOOTBALL CLUBS" ...
Encouraged by the League authority to assimilate into the locality they based since the inauguration in 1996, some clubs find it hard to establish a concrete bond with the local grassroots organizations.

"It takes two hands to clap," said one former club official who spoke on the condition of anonymity on such engagement."Also the clubs, themselves, must also know what the objective of such (community) engagement."

Would this HUFC poster at Bishan MRT station grab your attention?
"But things weren't that easy when we approached those (grassroots) organizations (for such engagement) as they would turn us down by saying 'we don't promote football clubs'.

"Furthermore, we were only allowed to put up (promotional) posters in strategically located Community Clubs (CC), instead on notice boards of residence blocks' lift lobbies that made it harder to reach out to a wider potential fan base."

Nonetheless, it isn't always the case to see such approach being snubbed as the continuing collaboration between Albirex Niigata (Singapore) and Yuhua CSC is the best testament for such effort.

ALBIREX FUSED INTO YUHUA ...
Following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) earlier this year, it marked the fourth year of this partnership between the constituency sports club and the club.

When asked if it has been the club's policy to target residents of Yuhua and nearby regions as their primary fan base, Albirex Singapore's General Manager Koh Mui Tee partially confirmed that suggestion with this blogger.

Albirex Niigata (S) has been a visible part of Yuhua estate
“Yuhua was the region when we first targeted as a base for community outreach,” said Koh in response to the query mentioned above in affirming their commitments to their hinterland.

He explained:“The reasons are many folds, for example, the (Jurong East) stadium (which serves as the team's home ground) and the club offices are based in the Yuhua SMC (Single Member Constituency) which is a small enough base for us to start rather than the Jurong area or South West region.”

The partnership has yielded many positive outcomes which saw the club named as the recipient of the People’s Association Community Award last year for their active involvement in the Yuhua community like promoting activities of local CC to the residents.

“If resources permit, we would, of course, like to expand to the Jurong area and eventually the South West region.” added Koh on the possibility of widen up their fan base to nearby housing estates in the near future.

Albirex Niigata (S)'s little cheerleaders (file)
But according to the long-time football administrator, the bond between his club and their hinterland can be traced before 2013 when they first inked the partnership.

Revealed Koh:“Before our collaboration (in 2013), we have already worked with Yuhua CC in relation to our cheerleading girls, who represented them in the Nationals Competition in 2012.”

Whilst many heralded their community efforts as a successful one, Koh felt there are many other similar occurrences in the S.League that media efforts should step up to promote these outreach citing some of the programs like Hougang United's scholarship programs, Warriors' community involvement in Yew Tee area, etc.

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