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, March 21, 2015

Don't Shy Away For Not Trying Them Out...

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Lions' coach Bernd Stange has been keeping low of late
It was not surprising to see the usual reaction from some supporters following the announcement of the national team for the recent friendly matches against both Thailand and Guam.

The usual grouses centred around those players who are constantly ignored by the establishment despite churning consistent performance in the S.League day in and out.

And not without questioning those selections they deemed dubious (based on my interpretation on some postings online).

In certain cases when preparing for any major overseas tournaments, it would see the inclusion of players having the "necessary experience" to cope with the higher intensity and competitiveness that are usually demanded by international level which is something not the local league can provide (as compared to Thailand's TPL).

Coach Raddy had his frustrations during his time here
Therefore, it is not uncommon to see those they claimed the "familiar fews" since the days of former Lions coach Raddy Avramovic who once highlighted the dearth of local players lacking international experience on club level had restricted the pool of selection ready for the national team.

Coach Raddy's concern was evident when all these while Singapore was represented chiefly by powerhouses such as Tampines Rovers, Home United and Warriors FC (since they were known as SAFFC) in continental tournaments (i.e.: Asian Champions League and AFC Cup) and not forgetting those plying their living in MSL with Lions XII.

Singapore clubs no longer have it easy in AFC Cup
So when Balestier Khalsa broke the "continent oligopoly" after earned their ticket out of the island by winning RHB Singapore Cup last year, it was seen as a chance finally came to allow players who never have a chance to play for the national team an opportunity to play the game at a much higher level.

Of course, it would be too much to ask from the Toa Payoh-based Tigers to advance their way from the group stages where the key to allow their players to experience and expose to different football cultures (although some may argue the presence of foreign sides in S.League should be adequate).

Coach Marko - pragmatic approach in AFC Cup till date
Since then, Marko Kraljevic's men gave themselves a decent account in AFC Cup Group F to this stage.

Apart from the beginner's jittery that saw them lost three-nil away to Kitchee SC in Hong Kong, the next two matches chalked a heartbreaking loss to Malaysia's Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) followed by an upset victory over Kingfisher East Bengal of India a week later.

That recent two home matches were credible enough to suggest these Balestier players, whom many are never within the radar range of the national selectors, have shown decency at that level.

Zaiful Nizam deserves a chance in the national team
Thus, it hardly raised any eyebrow and justified the suggestion by Kraljevic, himself, that his custodian Zaiful Nizam should be given a chance in the national team.

Alongside the former Gombak United 'keeper, names like Jonathan Xu and Poh Yifeng (who was once selected by Coach Raddy back in 2012) had also proved their worth in matches against JDT and East Bengal.

A compliment to Poh and BK after JDT game
Furthermore, with the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers merely months away, it shall do little harm not to try out some of the players who just sampled some regional competitiveness.

So why not give these guys a chance to earn a cap that would only benefit the whole like widening the pool of players for selection?

Unless, someone can convince me the current model is still feasible in spite the brickbats thrown at them.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

[AFC Cup] Tigers ROAR to historic win over Lal Holud

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Jonathan Xu (13) opened the account of the evening
By all standards, it wasn't the best display of football in the evening that saw the match delayed by half an hour due to the activation of the Lightning Warning System (LWS), still gloss shall not be taken away that saw a more significant occurrence that took place on the field.

When referee Kao Jung-fang blown to signal the end of the AFC Cup Group F match between Balestier Khalsa and Kingfisher East Bengal, history was made with the hosting Tigers registered their first points in their maiden continental tournament after upset the Kolkata-based club 2-1 at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

After the heartbreaking defeat to Johor Darul Takzim last week, Balestier seems to have put things behind them and took their chances well as early as in the sixth minute when defender Jonathan Xu triggered scoreboard with a screamer from outside.

It was the Toa Payoh-based club that dominated the game for the next half an hour and saw them doubled the score with a strike from Miroslav Kristic in the 19th minute.

Kristic made it 2-0 in 19th minute
Yusiskandar Yusop raised to clear the danger
Latched onto a lob pass from defender Ho Wai Loon, the Balkan marksman made sure he finished off with a textbook ending amid a split backline of the Lal Holud, who were one of the semi-finalists of the tournament back in 2013 and the score remained till the end of the first 45.

The second half restarted with the Indian side took a different approach by playing a more possessive game with short passes coupled with more mobility of their staff on the artificial surface that appeared to be greasy to their liking and saw most of their momentum stumbled in the final third of the surface that mis-cued passing of the possession was a common sight.

Still the perseverances of East Bengal paid off in the 82nd minute when Nigerian striker Dudu Omagbemi finished off with a volley past a hapless Zaiful Nizam, the Tigers' custodian who played the match with a strained groin but his courageous performance between the sticks earned him the "Man-Of-The-Match" accolade.

Zaiful (full) in full control of situation
Hanafi Salleh (second from left) got better ahead in this duel
Dudu Omagbemi (second from left) evaded the attention in the center
A delighted Tigers coach Marko Kraljevic was a happy man when took his place in the post match press conference.

Said the Croatian coach:"I am very happy with the three points and I thought we played well in the first 25 minutes of the game before the opponents closed us down in the second half,

"Overall, the defence played well so did Zaiful, we were confident of holding them and could even score the third goal to finish the game, but it's never easy to play at Jalan Besar and against East Bengal who are the most successful club in India." concluded the former midfielder.

Meanwhile, Zaiful opined the last week's defeat to JDT was the motivation that spurred him and his teammates to do well in this victory.

"I think we were motivated after the 1-0 loss to JDT last week and many people don't believe in us even after we won the RHB (Singapore) Cup (last year), (this win) is good for us as it allows us to catch up with the rest in this group and gave them a good fight as well that we might be able to qualify for the next round if we follow the coach's instructions." said the former Lion City Cup 'keeper whom many seem as a national team material since making his professional debut with Gombak United in 2009.

Coach Schattorie "not impress"
Zaiful "motivated" for this match
However, East Bengal coach Eelco Schattorie was not impressed with the result when sharing his views with the media.

"It was not fantastic when my team gave away the two goals in the first half and saw them (Balestier) defended throughout the game," said the Dutchman who only took over the post in mid-seaon."We changed our game plan in the second half by going all out but we were let down by the amount of missed passes in the game which I don't think the surface is an issue when the opponents also facing the same slippery problem."

"While it was a deserving win for the opponents but I wasn't impress, as we just gave away to them the two goals."

In the another match of the same group in the same evening, Kitchee SC of Hong Kong beat JDT 2-0 in Mongkok to top the group with seven points after three outings.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

[AFC Cup] Gutted Defeat incurred by Gallant Balestier in Maiden Continental Home Game

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Disbelief for Balestier for the late goal conceded 
Even after they were gutted by a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat against defending MSL champions Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) in last evening's AFC Cup Group F encounter, Balestier Khalsa coach Marko Kraljevic is pleased with the performance put up by his team.

After all, the Johoreans were a much superior side that boast the likes of Malaysian internationals Safee Sali, Amri Yahyah and etc. on their payroll, but it was the show of sheer character with fighting spirit of the unheralded Singaporean side that won the hearts of those who watched them lost the game in dying moments in the encounter.

Jonathan Xu (13) is playing his second AFC Cup tournament
Poh Yifeng (center) ready to strike an attempt
With the clock ticking away in seconds after the fourth official indicated four minutes of injury time, a lapse in concentration in the back of Balestier wall allowed a slip in that was latched on perfectly by Asraruddin Putra Omar to stab home from close range to seal the game and remained unbeaten in the competition.

It would be the one of the two goals scored in the evening, should the earlier attempt by Amri in 86th minute was not ruled offside. However, the overall display by the team from the north side of the Causeway could only be described as average given the recent spate of injuries facing by their Croatian coach Bojan Hodak that saw him having to stretch his resources of late.

Other than that, it was also the well-drilled tactics by Coach Kraljevic that successfully kept the Harimau Selatan at the bay with swift closing down of play that denied to the Johoreans from gaining any advantage and with late strike in the 92nd minute of play had once cemented the term "Football is a CRUEL game".

"Iggy" Ang (14) gave himself a good account
Miroslav Kristic (11) edged out in an aerial duel
Zaiful Nizam (19) fisted away a danger for Balestier
Described by his former teammate at Balestier Central back in 1997 that the Tigers had deployed "parking the bus" tactic for over reliance on defending, Coach Kraljevic said:"Yes, I parked the bus but I didn't see any bus!"

"I thought we defended well in the game and you cannot just take anything from the English papers and put it as a question to me,

"We have done what we supposed to do and if we were lucky, we should have scored the first goal of the night but I think we did a great job and I am proud of my team." said the 50-year-old Croatian tactician after the match.

JDT fans made their presence felt
JDT coach Bojan Hodak speaking to the media
In the meantime, Coach Hodak suggested his depleted side were too slow in this narrow victory on the artificial turf that was earlier suggested they would have difficulties adapt to it despite the fact that they have not lost a game there since 2012 when Lions XII first entered the Malaysia Super League (MSL).

Said the former Jurong FC defender:"The way we played tonight is too slow and we are not sharp in the final third, we are also having a number of players came back after the injury and with Balestier parking the bus in front of their goal, it's not easy for them to concede a goal."

Sunday, March 01, 2015

APOLOGY TO MR KHAIRUL AMRI

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This entry is to serve as an apology to national and LionsXII striker, Mr Khairul Amri and his family for an online posting that was posted by me on BoLASEPaKO.com's Facebook Page earlier in the day.

I acknowledged the inconvenience caused by the said posting, which had been removed, to Mr Khairul Amri and his family. It was a bad judgement on my part for posting it up without realizing the grave consequences at that point of time.

I had called earlier and offered my sincere apology to Mr Khairul Amri, with this entry being served as a notice of apology.

I am sorry.

With Sincerity,
Ko Po Hui
(1st March 2015, Singapore)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

"Matchpix" - December 2014, January - February 2015

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(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)
  • Friendly: Geylang In't 2-2 LionsXII 27/12/2014
One of them was wearing the "Johnson" jersey
Towards the end of the match, the lighting conditions were pretty bad as the floodlights were not on at all. This was only the second time I compiled shots featuring the Lions XII and do take note the name on the back of the jersey may not necessary refer to the players who wore (eg: 'Johnson')

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REST OF THE MATCH PICTURES


  • Friendly: CYL 1-3 JDT II 10/1/2015
Adam Swandi (front) scored the only goal
I forgot to "switch on my lights" as the floodlights during the match were not blast to full that I initially set at the usual lower ISO until I realized when it was too late.

Both Baihakki Khaizan and Shahril Ishak turned out for the visitors in this match with Adam Swandi scored the only consolation for the SEA Games prep squad.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REST OF THE MATCH PICTURES


  • Friendly: Lions Veterans vs Mercedes SEA 18/1/2015
"Mr Hock" got down fast to block a ball 
The group of former national players came together pretty often to have a game or two to maintain their involvement in the game.

In the match against a team called "Mercedes SEA", former SAFFC coach Richard Bok also played in the match and scored a couple.

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  • Friendly: Project Vaults FC 1-5 JDT II 24/1/2015
Eyes on the ball 
Was informed of this fixture by the management of Project Vaults at the Serangoon Stadium, which is the first time I came to this stadium.

And realized that the turf that was once laid on JBS is laid on this stadium surface.

At the end of the day, the Johoreans claimed the victory and extended their fine form of run at the south side of the Causeway for their tuning up.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REST OF THE MATCH PICTURES


  • 7th SCC Soccer Sixes - Day One 31/1/15
You can see how glaring it was
Still need practice to shoot under the sun when the flickering rays and the passing clouds made the shooting an arduous task with the meddling of the settings ala "Edward Scissorhands".

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  • 7th SCC Soccer Sixes - Day Two 1/2/15
Tussling for the ball in the box
It wasn't easy to shoot under the sun with the fickling sunlight and the passing clouds constantly change the lighting conditions that I was advised by Mr Jaron Lee to switch to "Av" mode to free myself from all kinds of misery.

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  • Friendly: Singapore U23 1-8 Japan U22 14/2/15
Shoya Nakajima outwits the Cubs 
When the Strategic Plan was first mooted, one of the aims is to be among the top of the continent with constant sparring matches against those at that top echelon.

While very often we are being drilled to believe things are on path, but this result has once again allowed the "missiles to launch again".

Honestly speaking, I can't think of anything positive from this game too.

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  • AFC Cup - Warriors 1-3 Persipura Jayapura 24/2/15
Tom Beattie rose above the sea of heads
It was not a great outing for the reigning S.League champions who struggled to get things settled and lost to a much confident opponents in Persipura Jayapura. The irony being the Warriors lost to a side who yet to have a competitive match since the start of the year and whereas they just went through the grills of the ACL Playoffs.

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