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."

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.

[REPOST] The Day A Girl Sobbed For The Lions in March 1977

Instead of clamouring for those good old days, I always believe one shall never dwell on things that were already long gone.

Yet, the irony is we still need those past glories to inspire the newer generations to push the boundaries to do better than their predecessors.
Mat Noh embraced Uncle Choo after beat Malaysia 1-0 (New Nation)
PRE-WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS (ASIA ZONE GROUP ONE) IN SINGAPORE
It was a time when Singapore, the host, were ranked outsiders in this tournament which featured regional powerhouses like Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia as well.

How would one expect the Lions to do well against a technically superior Malaysia team who still boasted the likes of “Spiderman” R Arumugam, “Towkay” Soh Chin Aun, Santokh Singh, Wong Choon Wah, James Wong, etc. in the absence of the legendary Mokhtar Dahari who was injured?

Yet a hotly disputed penalty which was converted by Mat Noh (who was tasked by coach "Uncle" Choo Seng Quee to train on penalties for a week before the game, pictured above) resulted a stunning one-nil win over their more illustrious opponents gave the island nation a glimpse of hope that would see them face stronger teams like Iran, South Korea in the next stage for an elusive berth in Argentina.
0-0 against HK and game over for Malaysia (The Straits Time)
The Malaysians' hopes were dashed after a one-all draw with Hong Kong that set up a match which seen by many as a “David versus Goliath” showdown which favoured the professional squad from the then British crown colony over the amateurs from Singapore.

SIDESHOWS LEADING TO 12TH MARCH 1977
Interesting snippets during the build up to the game included an unsuccessful attempt by a fan who rang up the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to seek a possibility of granting him a complimentary ticket to the match as it was his birthday on the same day.

A feature by The Straits Times on the wives of several Singapore players revealed how they coped with their husbands' national team commitments on top of their families' ones with a number of them lamented that sense of “loneliness” when their men were away on duty.

The most hilarious incident was probably a prank call that alerted the FAS of the arrival of the then FIFA president Joao Havelange to Singapore and had the liaison official rushed to the airport for a two-hour wait before realised it was a hoax.

Asami answered his critics via proxy (The Straits Times)
At the meantime, Toshio Asami (pictured above), the Japanese referee who handled the “Causeway Derby” days earlier gave his side of the story (via a proxy) after the questionable decisions in that match riled the Malaysians who felt those rulings marred their chances in the qualifiers.

THE END RESULT
Lau Wing Yip's 32nd minute goal broke the hearts of the 60,000 partisan fans at the old National Stadium and hundreds of thousands of those watching at home to seal the 1-0 win for the Hong Kongers.
The showdown on 12th March 1977 (The Straits Times)
The Singapore side did not let their adoring fans down by putting up a gusty performance in spite of what the Malaysia team manager said before the game.

“I pick Hong Kong because they are clearly the better side, Singapore are a shade below Hong Kong's class. A partisan crowd would not be a problem to the professional players of Hong Kong...” said Bakar Daud who was quoted by The Straits Times on the game day.

Singapore's performance was lauded (The Straits Times)


The game (the match highlights above, alternate source) may have lost but that particular night in March 1977 went down in Singapore football folklore as one of the key milestones for the sheer determination shown along the way to overcome those obstacles to bond a young nation together.

THE DAY A GIRL SOBBED
Such an impact of that defeat had The Straits Times reported a girl called up the broadsheet office at 12:20am following the match, sobbing over the phone by saying:“I want to contact coach Seng Quee, I'm still in a daze. Our team did not deserve to lose.”

(L-R)Trainer Hussein Aljunied consoled Quah Kim Song (Sunday Nation)
(P.S: All scanned images were reproduced from NLB archives and match highlights from this source, should anyone feel it's 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.

However, please be assured these images and video clip are meant illustration purpose only and not other usage.)

Friday, August 10, 2018

A Picture Tells A Thousand Words.

Shahril Ishak roams into the box
One snap (above) of Home United's Shahril Ishak like this in their recent Great Eastern Hyundai Singapore Premier League (SGPL) game against Hougang United should raise a concern of our chance in this year's AFF Suzuki Cup and panic button should be pressed by now.

WHY?

First of all, take a look at this picture and what did you see?

We have a free roaming Shahril with his eyes on the ball making his way into the box in this attacking move.

Any sane mind would be asking how could a veteran striker like him be given such a luxury of space by a backline?

That was probably why Hougang's caretaker coach Clement Teo, seen in background of this snap, gesturing either to his back line to "watch out for Shahril!" or asking "why no one is marking Shahril?"

Eventually, both Justin Hui and Adam Mitter (who was released during the recent transfer window) arrived in time to keep the ex-JDT II skipper at bay.

Mitten and Hui arrived in time to contain Shahril
If it was the Shahril Ishak back in 2010 before he joined Persib Bandung, such a move would almost guarantee a goal.

NOT COMPETITIVE ENOUGH
While it may sounded far-fetched but if the SGPL is going to be the platform to prepare most of our Lions for the Suzuki Cup, I think we may forget about it again.

The present SGPL is not competitive enough and lack of the intensity to groom any national player we thought it supposed to

Can Amri (left) recreate his SGPL form for the Lions as well?
Key players like Khairul Amri, Irfan Fandi, etc. must be in an intense environment to gear themselves ready and same for the case for Shahril, if he still believe he has a chance in the Lions setup in November.

Furthermore, the discrepancy of the standard among the teams in the SGPL is another worrying sign with an even younger Albirex Niigata (Singapore) already wrapped up the title in late July before the season ends in three months time.

WET BEHIND THE EARS
Given the policy that make it mandatory for SGPL clubs to field a number of younger players this season, are we moving in the right direction with more youngsters being signed as "professional" when they're still wet behind the ears?

It is kind of worrying to see how the clubs pushed their largely unproven new signings who are not properly groomed under the existing system into the professional ranks abruptly.

Is SGPL good enough to gear Irfan (14) for big time?
By keep saying an unproven player A has the "potential" or raw player B is a "national material", etc. is not something healthy when what if both A and B don't deliver when expected?

The Prime League would have been a good feeder league to groom these fledglings if proper running of it was in place. Sadly, it was not the case and years of neglection resulted the supposedly feeder league to discontinue this year following the launch of the SGPL by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).

Friday, August 03, 2018

[Guest Column] - Starlets Made Up For The Absentees in ICCSG2018

Yusof B Ibrahim was among those who made their presence days ago at the International Champions Cup - Singapore (ICCSG) tournament which was held for the second time in the Lion City.

Here is his summary of the tournament after caught the likes of Arsenal, Atlético Madrid and PSG (Paris Saint-Germain) in action in a space of five days at Kallang.

Arsenal head coach Unai Emery
The second edition of the International Champions Cup Singapore tournament (ICCSG) was held in late July at the Singapore Sports Hub with likes of Arsenal, Atlético Madrid and PSG (Paris Saint-Germain) pitted against one and another in this annual mega tournament featuring some of the biggest football clubs in the world.

Early birds Arsenal arrived with a full squad which included former German international Mesut Özil who was, however, not featured in their opening match against Atlético Madrid, as new Gunners gaffer Unai Emery opted for a similar system favoured by his predecessor Arsene Wenger with Aaron Ramsey skippering the side.

The highlight of this opening match was England youth international Emile Smith Rowe cancelled out Atlético’s Luciano Vietto’s 41st minute goal with a brilliant individual effort in just two minutes after the break to salvage his team to a one-all draw at full time.

Emile Smith Rowe (second from right) levelled for Arsenal against Atlético Madrid (Getty Images for ICC)
The 17-year-old has been one of the outstanding performers in Arsenal’s pre-season build up with his skills and ability to unlock some of the meanest defences.

Nonetheless, all these were futile when the match went into lottery and saw Atlético won on penalties at the end of the day.

Arsenal did not wait for long and bounced back strongly to beat PSG 5-1 in front of 50,308 spectators at the National Stadium two days later.

PSG's 'keeper Gianluigi Buffon (Getty Images for ICC)
Crowd favourite Özil was named as the Gunners captain for this match and opened the account in the 13th minute by finished off a cross from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who squared it nicely to put the 30-year-old through on goal to score with ease.

Handicapped by the absence of superstars like Neymar and Kylian Mbappé, PSG's young starters were obviously not able to match the dominance of Arsenal and had to rely on the experience of Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon in between the posts to avoid further bloodshed.

Angel Di Maria played in the last match of ICCSG 2018
The featuring of Argentinian winger Angel Di Maria in their next match against Atlético brought some cheers to the Parisans who were able to see themselves in a head to head position with the Los Rojiblancos.

It was a nail-biter thriller towards the end of the final match of this year's tournament when Virgiliu Postolachi sealed the match in a dramatic fashion to see PSG beat Atlético Madrid 3-2 in dying minutes.

Despite the non-appearance of several star players who opted out of this year's ICCSG after the World Cup, fans in Singapore did witness a few uprising stars in the likes of Matteo Guendouzi, Moussa Diaby, etc. who all have the potential to carve a niche of their own in years to come.
  • Views expressed may not be that of the blog owner.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

"Matchpix" - July 2018

  • SGPL - Home Utd 1-0 Hougang Utd 010718
I think panic button should be pressed by now
With this Great Eastern-Hyundai Singapore Premier League fixture between Home United Football Club and Hougang United Football Club (HGFC) together with the one I saw a day earlier, I would say if we are to depend entirely on this league as our main source for the team playing in the AFF Suzuki Cup, the panic button should be pressed by now.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REST OF THE MATCH PICTURES

  • Friendly - Ex Internationals vs SCRC 180718
Former Lions skipper Razali Saad (left) in action
This friendly match between Ex International Legends and SCRC from SMRT was played at the Jalan Besar Stadium. The former is preparing for the upcoming The Sultan of Selangor's Cup in late August while the latter is gearing up for the GSFL season.

Additional photos from Mr Yusof Ibrahim.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REST OF THE MATCH PICTURES

  • ICCSG2018 - Atlético Madrid 1-1 Arsenal (AM on penalties) 260718
Action in the box
Atlético de Madrid got off to a good start in their ICCSG (International Champions Cup) campaign by beating Arsenal on penalties after the match ended 1-1 at full time at the Singapore Sports Hub in front of a crowd of 23,095.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REST OF THE MATCH PICTURES

  • ICCSG2018 - Paris Saint-Germain 3-2 Atlético Madrid 300718
"Gee, what was the free-kick routine?"
Virgiliu Postolachi's goal ensured PSG - Paris Saint-Germain ended their Singapore trip ended with a win and a defeat after they beat Atlético de Madrid 3-2 at Singapore Sports Hub to wrap up this year's International Champions Cup - Singapore tournament.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REST OF THE MATCH PICTURES

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