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."

Thursday, October 31, 2019

"Matchpix" - October 2019

  • #BrasilGlobalTour2019- Brazil 1-1 Nigeria 131019
Brazil's "Bobby" Firmino (20) prepares for a shoot against Nigeria
The star-studded Brazilian national team wrapped up their whirlwind tour with another draw against another African opponents - Nigeria at the National Stadium.

Joe Aribo scored for the Super Eagles in the 35th minute before Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro levelled the scoreline in the 48th minute.

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  • WCQ 2022 - Singapore 1-3 Uzbekistan 151019
Both Shawal Anuar (20) and Irfan Fandi (17) raided the Uzbeks' fortress
Singapore succumbed to their second consecutive defeat following a 3-1 lost to Uzbekistan at the National Stadium.

The visitors took the lead in the 15th minute through Odil Ahmedov before Ikhsan Fandi equalized at the stroke of half time to send the home fans to wild jubilation.

Eldor Shomurodov's double in the second half wrapped up all three points in the bag for the Uzbeks.

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  • Singapore Cup - Balestier Khalsa 0-0 Warriors FC 231019
Gabriel Quak (white) forced his way out of the tangle
It has not been the best of the season for the beleaguered Warriors given the recent bad spate of publicity surrounded the once mighty giants of local football.

But they defied the odds and made it to the semis of the Komoco Motors Singapore Cup.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Dead Wood Feeling of A Cup ...

Somehow, the atmosphere for the ongoing Komoco Motors Singapore Cup tournament just don't seems to feel right at all.

It is a major cup semi-final phase we are now talking about but the ambience is as if nothing happened to set the stage right for the fans, if any, to fire up their imagination.

The semis are scheduled four days apart. (source)
Here we have a situation that not only could possibly see Brunei DPMM clinch a historical double but would also see any three of the local sides, namely Geylang International, Tampines Rovers and Warriors FC put an end to the "local drought" by claiming the Singapore Cup this season.

STAGS' LAST HOPE FOR GLORY
Having fumbled in their league title chase, the Stags knew it very well the Cup is their best hope to end their trophy drought after they last won the S.League title back in 2013.

But even with a two-goal advantage from their first-leg win over Geylang, their co-tenants at Our Tampines Hub, Tampines are well aware they shall never take things for granted especially the Eagles having knack of scoring crucial goals in the dying moments in any match which they did a few times during the league campaign.

One of the goals scored in the dying moments by Geylang this season

It is certainly not the best of a season for the once mighty Warriors FC who are struggling to revive their fortunes on the field, yet the Singapore Cup had thrown them a lifeline that saw them in the final four of this tournament after finished unbeaten in Group A.

WARRIORS' LAST CHANCE TO REVIVE
It would have be a different story when they are due at home against DPMM later tonight, should Warriors' skipper Gabriel Quak converted his chance from the spot last weekend to level the series at one a piece.

However, given the wafer-thin lead brought over from the first leg, DPMM are well aware they must not be complacent, if not we could see another slip up on their part that almost derailed their league title chase at the closing stage at one point.

Highlights from DPMM-Warriors' semi-final (first-leg) match

The lack of ambience and anticipation that usually associated to a Cup competition might attribute to the fact that it is already approaching the end of the local football calendar that made the whole scheduling packed like a can of sardines.

Barely three days after the completion of the group stages, the first leg of the semi-final fixtures were held last Saturday (26th October) before staging of the second leg of the series later this evening with the final taking place on 2nd of November that will see the third/fourth placing match on the same day as well.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Pull Power of "Seleçāo" Waned?

Neymar Jr said "Goodbye" before made his exit from the Nigeria game due to injury 
The Brazilian national team concluded their whirlwind tour of Singapore that saw them pit against Senegal and Nigeria over the past few days at the National Stadium.

These friendly matches were scheduled as part of the exclusive arrangement between the Brazilian FA (CBF) and Pitch International, a leading sports marketing agency, under the "Brasil Global Tour" package that begun in 2012 which will continue till the 2022 World Cup tournament.

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino (20) made his attempt against Nigeria

POOR CROWD FIGURES 
As compared to the 51,557 that packed the same arena five years ago to witness the "Seleçāo" featured against their Japanese counterparts and saw superstar Neymar Jr. netted all four goals, a paltry crowd of 20,621 turned up for the designated hosts' one-all draw with Senegal on the first night despite having some of the biggest names in the game.

It could probably due to the fact that it was on a weekday that explained the poor turnout at the Brazil-Senegal game, while some cited the pricey admission charges for attending those matches, as reported by the Straits Times.

Some Brazilian fans among the crowds in the Brazil-Nigeria match
Gremio's striker Everton (19) was targetted by some European clubs before extended his contract
Even CBF head of technical development Juninho Paulista also registered his disappointment after the first match in the same news report over the poor attendance by saying "... it is disappointing because we always want to play in front of many fans."

Other than those factors mentioned, another possibility of such lukewarm reception could be the timeframe from the announcement till the realization of the event that coincided with the World Cup qualifiers staged around the region during the same period.

Philippe Coutinho (11) replaced Neymar Jr. early in the game
Compared to the building to other matches of similar scale held recently in the republic, the announcement of the "Brazil Global Tour in Singapore" was only made known to the media via a press release issued by TEG Live, the organizers, on 17th of September, less than a month prior to the first match played on 10th of October.

TIGHT TIMEFRAME
Usually, matches of such scale would see regional fans flown to Singapore to get up close with the marquee names but given short timeframe mentioned, it proved to be a challenge to woo the regional fans let alone having to target the local residents to part their hard earned monies for these friendly games which were subject to criticism from Brazilian coach Tite and some sectors of the local football fans over scheduling of these matches.

Nigeria's Victor Osimhen (9) got ahead of Thiago Silva (3) in this aerial duel
Paul Onuachu (19) flanked by Thiago Silva and Dani Alves (right)
Last ditch effort was made to boast the ticket sales did not seems to work when a slightly lower crowd of 20,385 fans attended the second match between Brazil and Nigeria that saw the match ended with another one-all draw.

It doesn't look pretty for the Brazilians as this result meant they have not win a match in their last four outings, although the bigger question is - has the "Seleçāo" lost their pull power to fill the stands or simply because local football fans would prefer to be on the couch than at the ground?

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Pluralization - A Means To Resolve The "NS" Issue?

I was wondering if the turmoil at Warriors Football Club did not surface, would the attention be dominated by the injury-time appearance of that Fulham FC youngster by the name of Ben Davis in the Carabao Cup or the "Goal 2034" topic?

A poll was conducted to ask which was the talking poll on Facebok
The Thai-born Davis caused quite a stir few months ago for defaulted his National Service (NS) obligations in his pursuing of a professional football career in England.

Whereas the troubles at one of the most successful clubs in Singapore football history saw the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) took an unprecedented step to direct Warriors FC to remove Paul Poh from his role as the club's general manager and honorary secretary following several lapses of discrepancies.

While the two incidents may not be linked directly, it is not hard to realize the coincidence of having the military background in both occurrences.

MILITARY BACKGROUND
For Davis' case, he defaulted his NS obligations - a fact that was announced by Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and whereas Warriors FC used to be under the purview of Mindef as Singapore Armed Forces Football Club (SAFFC) before relinquished the management of the club in January 2017.

The glory days of the Warriors FC when they were known as SAFFC
Prior to Mindef relinquishment of control, there were players serving their NS turned out for SAFFC like former national striker Noh Alam Shah did back in both 2000 and 2001 S.League season before returned to Sembawang Rangers to fulfil the remaining of his contractual obligations with the Stallions in July 2001.

In a recent extensive report on the "Goal 2034" topic by The Straits Times, some in the local fraternity opined it was a good system which allowed NSF (National Servicemen) footballers to gain exposure and experience by playing alongside with seasoned professionals and should look into the revival of this arrangement.

Perhaps Singapore Premier League may want to take a look at examples in the Thai and Korean leagues for some ideas in this "revival" to resolve the outstanding "NS issue" that has been a major concern in a footballer's development?

Vincent Subramaniam and Kok Wai Leong - the dynamic duo of SAFFC
However, there is always a cause of concern if a group of NSF footballers completed their service at the same period of time, it could affect the team's consistency in their league performance like what South Korean military club Sangju Sangmu FC is facing when a core of their players are set to complete their military service and return to their parent clubs in their ongoing K League 1 campaign.

The Thai league also see the presence of various teams representing the local military in the their football pyramid with the likes of Army United for whom Singapore custodian Hassan Sunny plays for, Air Force United and Navy FC who signed Lions winger Gabriel Quak for their campaign last year.

MORE OPTIONS FOR THE NSFs?
Instead of having just two teams like in the past with only Police FC (before renamed as Home United years later) and SAFFC to cater to the "needs" for these NSF footballers, studies should be carried out to determine the feasibility of having a few more clubs like teams representing RSN (Navy), RSAF (Air Force) or even a team from Civil Defence.

Local legend Fandi Ahmad hung up his boots at SAFFC before took over as their coach
Ivica Raguz was one of the stylish players ever graced the S.League
"It's reasonable to want extra options, but the respective services would have to buy in. I suspect they don't want to." said @singnoname who replied his thoughts when I first tweeted the idea using this platform's twitter account, implying the services may not be that keen to this suggestion.

Furthermore, it seems there is no change in Mindef's policy either when they referred to the 2012 statement they issued when asked by Straits Times if there will be a possible revival of this "SAFFC" policy.

Nonetheless, given the importance of the policy to this country's sovereignty, it is inevitable that the formulating of any sporting policy will have to take into account how this blueprint is able to compliment itself to the NS policy and the much anticipated "Goal 2034" project will be not different.

But how are the policy makers going to make it tick this time when past initiatives like the much-ridiculed "Goal 2010" failed? Just make sure we do a comparison of the "2010" with the soon-might-to-be-announced "2034" blueprint and highlight any concern to the policy makers.

(Note: There is a recent development that Davis is named in the provisional squad for Thailand SEA Games' football squad.) 

Monday, September 30, 2019

"Matchpix" - August/September 2019

  • SGPL - Geylang Int'l 2-1 Tampines Rovers 140819

Tampines Rovers' Singapore Premier League title hopes suffered a setback when a late Yuki Ichikawa's header sealed the fate that saw Geylang International beat Stags 2-1 at JBS.

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  • Lions Training Session - 070919
Coach Yoshida (left) injected flair to Lions' game since took over
Following the 2-2 draw against Yemen days earlier, national coach Tatsuma Yoshida put the Lions through the drills in their preparation against the Palestine on the 10/9 at the JBS.

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  • Friendly - SGP Selection 2-0 Fiji U22 060919
The Fijians' wall saw the ball glided past them
This friendly match against their Fijian counterparts at Bishan Stadium saw the Singapore U22 included a number of overaged players like Raihan Rahman, Fabian Kwok and Sahil Suhaimi in their squad as part of the preparation for the upcoming SEA Games in weeks to come.

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  • AFC U16 Qualifiers - Hong Kong 2-1 Singapore 170919
Hong Kong snatched a late winners to beat Singapore
Overall Hong Kong was the better side and deserved the win in their opener against hosts Singapore in this AFC U16 qualifiers played at JBS earlier.

The Cubs, on the other hand, only woke up from their ideas in the second half despite taken the lead against the run of play in the first half.

But it is noteworthy to single out Singapore's 'keeper Veer Karan Sobti's performance earlier, as his earlier heroics ensured the low margin of the final score.

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