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, June 30, 2018

"Matchpix" - May-June 2018

  • SGPL - Albirex Niigata (S) 1-0 Hougang Utd 060518

The result saw Albirex Niigata FC Singapore pulled away from the pack in the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League league standing with the rest of them still scratching their heads.

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  • SGPL - Balestier Khalsa 1-2 Geylang International 020618

Not much to snap when most of the actions were "out of bound" due to my equipments limitations but nonetheless Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League the match saw Geylang International beat Balestier Khalsa 2-1 at the "dark" Toa Payoh Stadium.

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  • SGPL - Hougang Utd 0-2 Tampines Rovers 090618
Khairul Amri (partially hidden by ball) scored in this match
For Tampines Rovers, their main is try to narrow their gap in between them and Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League leaders Albirex Niigata FC Singapore and Hougang United, their aim was to secure their first win of the season. The match was also the last game for Philippe Aw who was relieved of his role as the Cheetahs' head coach on the following day.

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  • Friendly - Singapore U23 0-2 Myanmar U23 200618
Cubs (in red) were outclassed by their guests from Myanmar
As for now, it's done deal that the Cubs will not go to 18th Asian Games Jakarta-Palembang 2018 after they lost to a team of younger opponents who simply outclassed them at Bishan.

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Maintain Consistency Is Coach Yoshinaga's Biggest Challenge

Barely into the second round of the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SGPL) had Balestier Khalsa coach Marko Kraljevic ate his words.

Speaking to The New Paper (TNP) after his side's five-nil defeat to defending champions Albirex Niigata (Singapore) on the 27th of May, the Croatian coach declared:"Albirex are looking like champions. There's no way to chase them, they're too good this year."

Albirex is simply the best so far in SGPL.
This marked a stark contrast to his earlier remarks in April when he claimed the Yuhua-based side "are definitely not as strong as last year", a sentiment seemingly echoed by his Home United counterpart Aidil Sharin, as suggested in a separate article that appeared on The Straits Times.

Ironically, the Protectors were crushed 6-1 by the White Swans at their Bishan backyard on the very same day when the said broadsheet carried those thoughts with Adam Swandi scored the final goal in the dying minutes against his former club.

MUCH YOUNGER SQUAD
Perhaps those earlier assessments from the duo, who were once touted to replace V Sundram moorthy as Singapore national coach, were based on the fact that Albirex is required to field a younger squad  for this season.

Under the new criteria specifically imposed on them, the White Swans are required to fill up their roster with 50% of their squad with Under-21 players, with another 50% being players of Under-23 category, with one player being allowed under the "Open" category plus an option to recruit two local players who must be classified under the Under-23 manpower.

Adam Swandi joined Albirex this season
As the result, Albirex revamped their entire squad by retaining only veteran custodian Yosuke Nozawa and midfielder Hiroyoshi Kamata and recruited a number of players who were playing university football last year coupled with breakthrough signings of local players like Adam and 'keeper Shahul Rayyan.

A relatively slow start by their standard saw Kazuaki Yoshinaga's men notched up small margin victories against the likes of Tampines Rovers, Brunei DPMM before unleashed their prowess by shredded apart the Protectors on 18th of April.

MAINTAIN CONSISTENCY
By the end of the first round of this season, Albirex established a commanding lead on the league table with a perfect ten record of eight wins out of eight.

The jaw-dropping performance by his team did not see Coach Yoshinaga resting on his laurels and he was always quick to make known to the media after games on those areas he was not please with of his team's performance during those matches.

Maintain consistency is Coach Yoshinaga's biggest challenge
Perhaps the lack of competitive opponents presently in the SGPL is one of his main concerns and that is why the need to set those high expectations on his players in order to excel further.

"NOT CONTENT"
That sheer hunger for perfection is probably one of the reasons that set the White Swans apart from the rest, as illustrated in an online comment by an observer.

"They are often not content even after every win and keep implying that there is still room for improvements in their performance and correcting any mistake made in the match... All these issues coupled with their superior fitness and team work attribute to the success." replied "Chris Tsubasa" to one of the recent postings on this blog's Facebook page on the current form of Albirex.

Unless the rest of the league are able to devise a plan to stop them, it could be a possibility to see the Japanese boys not only dominate the scene again but also a chance to be on the Guinness World Record too.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Diminishing Exposure - Not A Good Thing For Singapore Football

"Thanks for coming." said one of the staffers whom I met at the end of a press conference I attended some times ago.

While it is always a pleasantry to receive such greeting but for that particular time I found it awkward or rather uneasy to receive such acknowledgement.

Usually, the press conference of that nature would see a decent turnout from the media to cover the event, whereas it was not the case when I was there and I could easily count the number of those reporters who were there.

To make things more intriguing was the absence of representation from several notable players of the field to cover the announcement which they usually would.

If this is going to be the typical scene in the subsequent weeks to come, it should be something of a concern to local football officials for such a lukewarm response from the media, especially of those from the big players.

MEDIA RESTRUCTURING
The recent restructuring of both MediaCorp (source:1, 2) and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) could have played a part in this trend when some may have noticed the reduced media coverage on the local scene by both media giants on their platforms with MediaCorp took a step further to shut down the printed publication of TODAY which effectively closed down its sports section.
SPH News Centre at Toa Payoh
The absorption of The New Paper's (TNP) sports section into the broadsheet Straits Times' (ST) Sports Desk over at the SPH stable is probably one of the reasons why the drastic reduction in media coverage over the past year.

"Not just (local) football, other sporting events like the WTA (Women's Tennis Association) tournament, Masters' Football, etc. had witnessed lesser media interest (since the media restructuring)," said a former Football Association of Singapore (FAS) media officer whom I spoke to.

He added:"Because of this new (mainstream) media landscape, sports coverage has taken a back seat with priority given to more pressing issues like transport, security, housing, utilities, etc."

REACH OUT TO STUDENTS
To address this problem, one solution offered by this former media officer is to reach out to one untapped spectrum of the media - school publications managed by students like Nanyang Chronicle of NTU (Nanyang Technological University).

Front page of "Nanyang Chronicle" (credit: Teo Yu Run)
"People always talk about the young in football on the pitch and for the fans, they forget that it can be done for media too...and young people may like to read what their peers write about." opined this former officer who requested not to be named.

"(Just) like what they did with the photographers, clubs and FAS should also work with student papers, newsletters in universities, tertiary institutions by send budding reporters (to) cover matches or events related to Singapore football in order to reach out to more young people out there."

PROACTIVE ENGAGEMENT
On top of that aforementioned suggestion, the clubs or the local game governing body to take a more proactive approach in their engagement with the media by pitching a story angle to encourage write up on them by journalists and not simply put up a media release while passively waiting for something to appear either on printed or online media.

Something of a past for scene like this back in 2011?
There may be arguments that clubs and FAS with their own social media channels can initiate their own coverage to reach out to their targeted audience. However, let us not forget the constant tweaking of the algorithms by operators like Facebook, as mentioned in this past entry, may not be an effective tool to depend on it.

At the end of the day, critical lack of media exposure to enhance the profile of Singapore Premier League will not do any good following its rebranding from the S.League.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

"Abang" Taking Charge in November

Fandi Ahmad will take charge of the Suzuki Cup campaign
It was a mere formality when the earlier press conference was called to announce Young Lions coach Fandi Ahmad as the man in charge of the Singapore National Team for the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup campaign in November.

This hastily-arranged media gathering more or less confirmed a Straits Times' report that appeared days ago which suggested the former Singapore skipper “will hold the fort for the national team while the search continues for the coach who will lead the Lions on a permanent basis”.

So when the panel that comprised Messrs Lim Kia Tong (FAS president), Edwin Tong (FAS vice-president), Yazeen Buhari (FAS Acting General Secretary) and Fandi, himself, took their seats before the start of the event, the awaiting media at the venue already knew what was on the agenda.

Fandi speaking to the media after the presser
“I am really exciting of the new Suzuki Cup format,” said the one-time FC Groningen striker on the new format that will have the participating teams of the biennial tournament being divided into two groups of five and play a round robin system with each team playing two home and two away fixtures at the group stages.

As the result, the four-time Asean champions are being scheduled two Group B home fixtures under this new format – against Indonesia on the 9th of November before taking on the winning team of the qualification play-off (either Brunei and Timor Leste) on the 21st of November.

When asked by a member of the press who would be assisting him for the Suzuki Cup campaign, the 56-year-old tactician revealed former national players like S Subramani and Noh Alam Shah are among those shortlisted.

Noh Alam Shah (file snap)
“I am truly honoured to be called upon by the legend of Singapore football to assist him in whatever way I can,” said Alam Shah in his text reply when told his name was one of those mentioned by Fandi.

“Representing the country as a player or an official doesn't make any difference, it is still something proud for me or for any other individual (to do so).

“The Lions may not be doing well at this moment but everything has an end, I truly believe the bad streak will end with Fandi's introduction as the coach (for this Suzuki Cup tournament).”

“On my part, I will try my best to motivate everyone in camp to do their best in every match and make the players understand what is the flag on their chest means when they don the jersey for a match.” added the former Tampines Rovers marksman.

Monday, April 30, 2018

"Matchpix" - April 2018

(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)

  • SGPL - Balestier Khalsa 0-1 Albirex Niigata (S) 080418
Balestier's Zaiful Nizam claimed the ball
One thing I should appreciate taking snaps for 5.30pm KO is the bright sunlight and take note when the sun goes down when close to 7pm. Ok with the outcome of this Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League match between Balestier Khalsa Football Club and Albirex Niigata FC Singapore at the Toa Payoh Stadium.

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  • SGPL - Balestier Khalsa 2-1 Warriors FC 290418
Players from both Balestier Khalsa and Warriors tussling in the box
Another win for Balestier Khalsa Football Club in the Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League placed them behind leaders Albirex Niigata FC Singapore in the league table.

Meanwhile Warriors Football Club are still trying to find the right formula as the poor start to the season continue to drag.

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