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."

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

"ZERO WIN" In 2017 For The Hapless Lions ...

Far too familiar sight for the past one year
The woeful display by the Singapore national team on their last match of the year sums up the state of the game in the island republic.

In this do-or-die battle against Bahrain at the National Stadium, a victory would have ensured the Lions of their faltering hopes to stay alive to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup tournament next year.

Unfortunately, things did not go the way Singapore wanted as they found themselves succumbed to their ninth defeat of the year in the hands of the Middle Easterns and the three-nil loss at home eventually kissed their continental dream goodbye.

This result also concluded the fact that the four-time Asean champions ended their calendar without a single win since their last triumph back in last November against Cambodia at the Bishan Stadium.

DOUBLE WHAMMY ...
Right from the start, attempts by both Geylang International's Shawal Anuar and Home United’s Irfan Fandi in a space of ten minutes gave the beleaguered host side a glimpse of hopes that they were ready to put the rot to a stop.

Shawal Anuar (white boots) collapsed onto the ground
Shawal had his effort draw across the face of the goal from the right in the second minute, while Irfan’s free-kick was smothered by the Bahrainis ’keeper Sayed Shubbar on line moments later.

The exploits by these both players seems to be instrumental in coach V Sundram moorthy’s game plan that everything turned chaos for the home side when they were forced to take early shower due to injuries occurred during the match.

The moment when Irfan Fandi (20) had his ankle twisted
“Both Shawal and Irfan are important players that with their absence from the game, I can't make any tactical changes.” lamented Coach Sundram at the post-match press conference.

“When Irfan was forced out of the game due to a twisted ankle, you can see the void he left behind which allowed the Bahrain number nine (Mahdi Abdul Jabbar) to score two goals.

"We did well to hold them for sixty minutes but disappointed with the conceding of those soft goals (after Irfan left the game)." he added.

CONFINEMENT IN OWN HALF ...
Compared to the flair and confident shown by the guests, the Lions were not able to match their opponents with same kind of performance, as it was the Bahrainis who dictated the momentum of the game by restricted the hapless Lions in their own half throughout the night.

Mahdi Abdul Jabbar (9) headed home with this aerial attempt
Poor decision making, stray passes which were easily intercepted by the guests also resulted the lack of firepower upfront for toothless Singapore side that hardly rattled the Bahrain fortress.

S.LEAGUE FOR STRIKER OPTION ...
When asked what could be done to address the weak striking power that has been plaguing the FIFA-ranked 173 side, the former national striker replied the remedy depends on how the domestic league is able to support that cause.

Jamal Rashed (second from right) scored Bahrain's third goal of the night
"We have to look for strikers in the S.League and see they can give younger ones," suggested the ex-Jurong FC coach. "For now, we just have to do our best in our next match against Chinese Taipei and prepare for AFF tournament."

Sunday, November 12, 2017

[Guest Column] - "Battle of Masters" Recap

Yusof B Ibrahim was at the National Stadium on last Saturday to witness the "Battle of Masters" Tournament featuring the likes of former Arsenal players alongside with their Liverpool and Singapore counterparts.

Football fans at the National Stadium were in treat over the last weekend when they were given a chance to witness a number of former English Premier League stars in action alongside with Singapore footballing legends in the “Battle of Masters” tournament organized by Masters Football.

DURIC SCORED AGAINST HIS HEROES ...
Both Arsenal and Singapore Masters raised the curtain for the night by dishing out some entertaining football with the Gunners had two of their attempts denied by the woodwork in the first half.

Aleks Duric (blue) scored on his new National Stadium debut
Shortly after the breather,1998 World Cup winner Robert Pirès reminded all of his trickery during his “The Invincibles” heydays when he opened the account in the 23rd minute of play (each half of the match lasted for 20 minutes).

Latched onto a pass threaded in by Luis Boa Morte, the 79-capped former “Les Bleus” winger made no mistake when he slotted the ball past Singapore's custodian Rezal Hassan to take the lead.

Pires attended by Aide Iskandar (5) and Noh Alam Shah
However, the joy proved to be a short-lived one when local legend Aleksandar Duric, playing his first game at the new National Stadium, cancelled out that effort by putting his name on the scoresheet against his favourite team in the 35th minute to share the spoils with the Londoners.

REZAL HEROICS DESPITE FLOODGATES ...
Despite conceded a goal in the curtain-raiser, Rezal was quick to regain his composure in Singapore's second match of the evening when they were up against a pacy Liverpool Masters side led by Finnish Jari Litmanen in attack.

Rezal Hassan literally blocked everything thrown at him
The energetic 46-year-old, nicknamed “Kuningas” (The King) back in his native Finland, tormented the Lions veterans backline like how he did in the past with his good footwork and sublime passes.

It proved to be something unjustifiable for the one-time Ajax Amasterdam star for not able to break deadlock when Litmanen had his penalty saved by the former SAFFC 'keeper who single-handedly kept the Reds at bay in the first period of play

It was, however, a different tale when the match resumed with the floodgates opened right from the restart.

Jari Litmanen (right) in action
Steve McManaman's easy tap in started the ball rolling in 21st minute and aided by the hard works on the flanks by both Fabio Aurelio and Luis Garcia who simply outpaced a tired Singapore side that saw the Merseysiders ranked in four goals in a space of 18 minutes which included a spot kick from 'keeper David James – his first ever goal in Liverpool colours.

RELIVE "CALTEX CUP" ...
That huge margin victory by the Reds set the tone perfectly when they took on a well-rested Arsenal side in a replay of the Caltex Cup match played in the old National Stadium back in 1991.

The Highbury legends drew the first blood in the fifth minute with Pirès scoring his second goal of the tournament by finished off a move orchestrated by Omer Riza who deceived both James and Steve Harkness before fed the ball to the Frenchman to tuck into the the far corner.

Some close attention on Robbie Fowler (right)
It was thought that Anfield veterans would wrapped the night with another win following efforts by Emile Heskey who volleyed in the eighth minute to level the scores and a David Thompson screamer in 12th minute.

Unfortunately, the perfect setting was spoiled by crowd favourite Pirès who scored his third goal of the night to ensure the Arsenal Masters did not end the night on a losing note.

Nonetheless, Liverpool Masters still walked away as the winners of the “Battle of Masters” Tournament on a better overall record.
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Saturday, September 30, 2017

"Matchpix" - September 2017

(P.S: If you access this site via "come.to/matchpix", please click the "Facebook" icon after you click "HERE" when you want to view the album as that will redirect you to the album, thank you)

  • ACQ2019 - Singapore 1-1 Turkmenistan 050917
Hassan Sunny made sure the ball is safe in his possession
Ideally a win would be a better option than a draw in this fixture, we should have nailed in the first place if we were clinical in our finishing and, of course, having stamina to sustain the full ninety minutes.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REST OF THE MATCH PICTURES

  • S.League - Hougang Utd 2-1 Garena Young Lions 150917
Eyes on the ball ...
Hougang United's win over Garena Young Lions did little to alter the league table but Coach Vincent Subramaniam remains positive and pleased with the efforts shown by the national de-facto squad.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REST OF THE MATCH PICTURES

  • 11th Merlion Cup 230917
Adelaide 36ers' Shannon Shorter stretched his way to make this counted
5th - 7th Placing match saw NLEX-SCTEX of the Philippines beat Taiwanese SBL side Yulon Luxgen Dinos 81-76.

The Semi-Final (1) match saw CBA's Shanghai Sharks defeated home team Singapore Slingers 73-67.

Following Adelaide 36ers' 94-72 victory over a resilience Jeonju KCC Egis in the other semi-final match, the former will meet the Sharks to determine who will win the tournament.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REST OF THE MATCH PICTURES

  • 11th Merlion Cup 240917
Adelaide 36ers' Nathan Sobey thrilled the fans with this slam
NBL side Adelaide 36ers defeated defending champions Shanghai Sharks 101-81 to clinch Merlion Cup. While the Singapore Slingers retained their fourth position finishing after found themselves overwhelmed by an aggressive Jeonju KCC Egis from Korea.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REST OF THE MATCH PICTURES

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Unlock That Potential Market ...

Best view in the house at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium
Being an avid baseball fan too, I headed to Taiwan, a popular tourist destination for many Singaporeans, to catch my favourite baseball team - Chinatrust Brothers (CT Bros, 中信兄弟) in action for the past six years.

It was something I never expected in my recent trip when I was offered an opportunity to join my Taiwanese friends in a hospitality event hosted by CT Bros at one of their home games in Taichung weeks ago.

EXCLUSIVELY FOR THE FANS...
From what I gathered, the hospitality event is exclusively for fans (and their guests) who are members of the team's official fan club.

Beside quality buffet were served to those who were present at the event, the organizers also arranged interactive sessions for the fans with one player from the roster and two members from the team's official cheerleading group before the game.

CT Bros' infielder Hsu Chi-hung (with mic) addressed the fans
Two members from the CT Bros cheerleading group addressed the fans
The event took place in one of the corporate boxes located at the top-tier of Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium (臺中市洲際棒球場), the primary home ground of the CT Bros, at the outskirts of the city of Taichung.

The 20,000-capacity stadium is also the de-facto home ground of the Chinese Taipei baseball team with facilities such as a baseball museum, merchandise shops and an event hall within its premises that emulated the Japanese model of such operation.

The hospitality event took place in one of the stadium's corporate boxes
Buffet reception for the fans
The concept of hospitality reception is nothing new in our own S.League too, although it is largely restricted to those "VIP" guests at stadiums having those corporate boxes like Bishan, Jurong West, Jalan Besar Stadium (JBS), etc. on match days and whereas corporate hospitality at games is a common revenue generating tool in established markets like in the English leagues.

"(Our club's) sponsors, committee members and special guests are usually those who we invited to our VIP Lounge (reception)." revealed Matthew Tay, general manager of Hougang United, on who are those on the club's guest list at games hosted by his club at the JBS.

Game Day at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium
The exterior of Taichung Baseball Museum

WIN-WIN SITUATION...
On the idea of the Cheetahs having a hospitality event similar to that of CT Bros', Tay believes it will be a good platform for both club and supporters to come together.

"I am sure supporters will endorse such initiative by the club," said Tay in his reply for comment on this concept. "There is always possibility for clubs to bring themselves closer to their supporters through event like this."

"It is, after all, a win-win situation for both the club and their supporters where they can mingle with each other after the game to build stronger bond over a dinner."

"Ideally, each club should have a space big enough to hold such an enclosed event for their supporters, sponsors, business partners, board members at their home ground." he added.

The VIP Lounge at the Jalan Besar Stadium
Screening of the match in the VIP Lounge
When asked if he would be keen to attend such event if there is one, Hougang supporter Ernest Lim is open to this idea.

Said Lim:"I would be interested if there is one to be organized by Hougang United for their supporters, even though I felt such hospitality program should also target those in the corporate sectors like hosting a company dinner while watching S.League games at JBS.

"Having said that, I believe there's a market for having this kind of hospitality event for the fans but I do hope the cost of attending one should be affordable to working adults and school students as well."

UNLOCK THE POTENTIAL...
To sum things up, this type of fan-oriented hospitality event shall be seen as an ideal platform where fans, players, coaches can come together to interact with each other in a let-your-hair-down ambience.

On the another hand while this hospitality event concept is a fan-centered one but it shall also be an avenue to explore as a revenue generating tool for clubs by providing a premium environment for fans to watch a football match in a comfortable setting.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Tired Lions Shared The Spoils With The Turkmens

Hassan Sunny looked helpless as he saw the ball rolled in the goal
It should be a game Singapore could have wrapped it up convincingly, if only they had been consistent till the final whistle that eventually had them shared the spoils with Turkmenistan in AFC Asian Cup Group E qualification match played last evening at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Buoyed by the new lease of life following the recent draw against Hong Kong on the same surface that saw a much adventurous Singapore side departed themselves from the usual pragmatic defensive game, the fans were hopeful to see a repeat of the same display that could place the Lions' fast fading continental dream back to the pedestal.

The crowd of 3,127 were not disappointed when the home team took onto the field by initiated a few attacking moves to unsettle their guests from Central Asia at the early part of the game.

Khairul Amri (19) lasted only 36 minutes of action
But such an adventurous performance failed to yield any dividend with plenty of chances being created in the game that were failed to see them crossed the goal line to the back of the net.

It proved to be a mammoth task for V Sundram moorthy's men when their striker-in-chief Khairul Amri was stretchered out of the game due to an injury with his replacement and fellow Tampines Rovers team mate Fazrul Nawaz failed to make any impact since came on the 36th minute.

The duck was finally broken in the 63rd minute with a well-taken strike from right-back Shakir Hamzah to give the Lions a jab of confident.

Safuwan Baharudin (21) played upfront in the game
Unfortunately, the elusive second goal of the match was not scored by the team in red but some sloppy defending in the Singapore backline that resulted an easy roller into the goal in the 82nd minute by Annadurdyyev Altymyrat.

By that time when the Turkmens levelled the scores, the Lions already found themselves handicapped by several substitutions made due to various injuries carried by the key players like Irfan Fandi and Nazrul Nazari prior to the equalizer.

Skipper Hariss Harun was lauded by Coach Sundram for his work rate
As the result, tactical changes were deemed necessary to preserve the slender lead by added the likes of Madhu Mohana and Faritz Hameed to shore up the defence but only to see them conceded the goal from Altymyrat which Coach Sundram opined was due to "ball watching" in his post-match assessment.

"The conceding of the equalizer was because of ball watching by the defenders," said the former national striker."I think in this match we had created chances that we could have scored the second goal."

"But when we have Nazrul, Irfan, Amri down and I don't have a Messi, we just have to be more confident.

"Overall, the boys had done well but in the last quarter of the game we should have done better probably we got tired faster than our opponents."

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