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."

Sunday, August 31, 2014

"Matchpix" - August 2014

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  • "I Bianconeri" in Singapore
No Carlos Tevez after all ...
Juventus are in Singapore for their final leg of the #juvetour and be playing the very first match stage in the new National Stadium. There was a stadium tour earlier of the day before the Singapore Selection had their training on the new surface.

The "Grand Old Lady" of Italian football held their one-and-only public training session on the following day (15/8) in front of their adoring supporters.


  • Football Returns to Kallang... (16/8/2014)
The sandy surface was the main talking point
The much-awaited football match to be play in the new National Stadium took place on 16th of August when the Singapore Selection took on "I Bianconeri" - Juventus.

The defending Serie A champions wrapped up their Asian-Pacific Tour with a 5-0 win over their hosts and midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo becoming the first ever goal scorer in the new arena.

Not an easy task when one is inside a new environment with the settings have to keep tweaking and fine-tune to achieve the result (still in the process).


  • S.League: Warriors 2-0 Tampines Rovers 29/8/2014
"Battle of Titans" in action
Tampines Rovers Football Club blown away their chances to topple DPMM from the top after a string of undesirable outcome that saw Warriors Football Club nicked them ahead to lead the local challenge against the Bruneians at the summit.

Anyway, the matters arising from the activation of the LWS should be looked into before we play in front of a white elephant sooner or later.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Stags' title hopes took a dent after 2-0 loss to Warriors

Agu Casmir (left) scored the first goal
Tampines Rovers' hopes of retaining the S.League title suffered a massive setback with a 2-0 defeat in the titanic clash against fellow title contender Warriors FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Prior to this rain delayed fixture, the Stags were given two opportunities to dethrone league leaders Brunei DPMM from the summit in the recent days, but defeat at home to Tanjong Pagar United that was followed by a draw away against Albirex Niigata (Singapore) had set this "do-or-die" battle for the reigning champions.

This televised match was delayed for close to two hours due to the activation of the Lightning Warning System (LWS) because of the downpour around the scheduled kick-off time.

Tribute to late Lee Kok Seng
The match eventually got off approximately fifteen minutes past nine when the sky cleared up for the match that was preceded by a minute of silence tribute to late Lee Kok Seng, the former national skipper who passed away recently.

Warriors, being the designated hosts for this Friday fixture wasted little effort to state their intentions with an early goal in the 13th minute.

Former Singapore international Agu Casmir opened the account for his side when he maximized the opportunity gifted by the poor ball controlling of defender Abdil Qaiyyim just outside the eighteen yard before steered clear of his marker to drive it low to home.

Beattie (6) celebrates after his goal
Hafiz Rahim sandwiched inside between
Thomas Beattie was the next to place his name on the list when the 27-year-old Englishman finished off from inside the six-yard amid a meelee that was caused by a well taken free-kick from Hafiz Rahim on the left following a foul committed by Tampines' Shahdan Sulaiman on Zulfadli Zainal.

The Stags, on the other hand, were trying to get themselves back into the match but just could not match the level of play set by their opponents and also the waterlogged surface that deterred them from playing their fluent passing game that only shown much improvement in the second half by raiding the Warriors fortress that was well marshalled by skipper Daniel Bennett with the commanding presence of Hassan Sunny at goal.

Alam Shah (Yellow) tried his best to not avail
Aerial Duel
By the time when the game was called for a close, Tampines Rovers knew too well that it would be an arduous task ahead for them to keep hold of the trophy they have caretaking for the last three seasons.

Yet, Stags coach Rafi Ali opined that the title race is far from over in his post match assessment.

Said the former Singapore midfielder:"We still have five games to play and anything can happen that just like boxing, I am not throwing the towel till I am knocked out,

"It's also a welcome break for us (after this game) and we hope those injured players (i.e.: Shaiful Esah, Kunihiro Yamashita, etc.) will come back in time, so that we can have a full squad to choose from."

"I thought second half we played what we wanted, which I am happy with the performance and in the first half, we were fighting but were let down by the waterlogged pitch. Furthermore, against a team like Warriors we can't afford to make any mistake that I felt the first goal was due to poor ball control with the second goal due to lapse of concentration."

Rafi - not throwing the towel
Echoed the same sentiment like his counterpart, Warriors coach Alex Weaver refused to write off the title chances of the other despite the convincing result that elevated his side to be the "chosen one" against the Bruneians ahead the rest.

"We cannot write off teams like Tampines Rovers and Home United at this stage, as Tampines are the champions for the last few years, which we set our target to achieve what they had achieved and I hope we could turn it in for the Warriors but it takes time." said the former Hougang United coach in the post-match media briefing.

Touching on the game, the Englishman credited the performance for the team cohesiveness in carrying out the game plan.

"We always wanted to start off brightly and positively in our game, in which I thought we did that in the absorbing, defended well and worked tactically as a unit that it's very pleasing to see that."

Hassan - "No GO" to Incheon
On the side note, Coach Weaver revealed Hassan will not be released by the club should the custodian be named in the Asian Games squad that is due to be announced soon, given the club priority that he opined they have been accommodating to Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) previous requests till this day.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"Pinball" Duo could be swapping spots after Balestier's comeback 4-1 thrashing of Hougang

This entry supports #mysleagueticket
Following their second consecutive defeat that saw them succumbed to a 4-1 loss to Balestier Khalsa earlier at the Toa Payoh Stadium, things aren't looking that positive for Hougang United all out of sudden.

Ranked as the dark horses for the intense ongoing title race in recent weeks, this evening's defeat coupled with last weekend's narrow 2-1 loss to Courts Young Lions had seen the Cheetahs dropping points and could be in danger of losing their spot in the top six after tonight's result.

At the meantime, buoyed by their gutsy performance against league leaders Brunei DPMM last week on the same ground that resulted a 3-3 draw, the Tigers found themselves right at the doorsteps to join the top echelon of the league with only a handful of games remaining.

In short, the outcome of this "Pinball Derby" could alter the fate of either team on where they would head to when the league fixture enters its final "0.5" phrase.

The duck of the game was broken just before the interval when the visitors took the lead on the stroke of half time with a successful conversion from the spot by Diego Gama following an infringement in the penalty area spotted by referee Muhd Taqi Jahari.

Such a goal conceded at this juncture of the match didn't cause much psychological damage to the hosts, as they came back strongly in the second half to dominate the proceedings for the rest of the night with the equalizing goal scored in the fourth minute after the break.

Park Kang Jin levelled for Tigers (file)
Latched onto a cross from the right off Ruhaizad Ismail inside the eighteen yard, Korean playmaker Park Kang Jin textbooked into the back of the net with little time for Hougang's skipper Fadhil Salim to react.

Poh Yifeng was the next to leave his mark on the scoresheet when he finished from close range in the 63rd minute after the ball bounced off the head of Goran Ljubojevic that landed on his path to see Balestier vice-skipper took the lead for his side.

Croatian Ljubojevic capped the night by scoring a double in the 69th and 79th minute to seal all three points for Balestier who are now on 30 points after 21 matches played just three points behind Hougang on the table.

"In the first half, I thought we were slow and sloppy that we woke up in the second half by moving faster in the game," said the Tigers' coach Marko Kraljevic after the game."I told the boys at half time that while we need to win this game, but we need to relax too and I think it was a great performance in the second half that the team played and defended well."

Tigers' Poh Yifeng (17) took the lead (file)
Speaking on behalf of Cheetahs' coach Amin Nasir, who returned to the dugout after missed out their last match due to his medical treatment, team manager Nicholas Low opined it was a poor show by his team tonight.

Said Low:"I thought we could maintain the lead (after the first half) and we still had our chances in the game, but some players didn't play according to our plan, it was a very poor display and especially in the second half,

"So now, we just have to pick ourselves up and back to the basics which I hope we can sort them out by our next game."

Coincidentally, both Balestier and Hougang will be facing cellar-dweller Harimau Muda for their next league fixture in days to come.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

At first, Home shredded apart Albirex before switched off in second

This entry supports #mysleagueticket (source)
A small hiccup in the second minute that saw Kazuya Okazaki notched in the early lead for Albirex Niigata (Singapore) did not cause much distress to Home United as the latter eventually sealed the game 4-2 at the Bishan Stadium in a mixed outcome.

The win by the defending Singapore Cup holders had leapfrogged them over the Japanese club in the league standings by placing themselves on the third spot with merely three points away from league leaders Brunei DPMM who suffered an almost frightening experience by scraping away with a 3-3 draw against Balestier Khalsa in another fixture of the night.

The home team gradually got their act together with a kind of football that seems to flow on the ground effortlessly in front of national coach Bernd Stange, who mentioned earlier in a report that the core of the AFF Suzuki Cup would be from the 41 players he brought to the Austrian training trip "unless there’s a player who is shining in the S.League".

Judging from the kind of performance in the first half, at least, he should give Fazli Ayob another shot for the Lions' call-up for that audacious shot from outside that hit the top corner of the back of the net to give Home the 4-1 lead before the interval.

Lee Kwan Woo (middle) netted a double (file picture)
Prior to the stunner by the former Lions XII midfider, the game was levelled by Korean playmaker Lee Kwan Woo in the 14th minute with a free-kick that riveted through the wall of the White Swan before striker Fazrul Nawaz gave them the lead in the 19th minute.

An unmarked Lee made it 3-1 at the half hour mark amid a shredded Albirex's defensive line from inside the box.

A much improved second half performance by the Japanese side kept the scoreline as the way it was with them easing in the deficit in the process in the 73rd with a header from Kazuki Sakamoto.

Acknowledged the shortcomings of their first half display in the post match press conference, Albirex's coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama said:"We did not play well in the first half and got this result, as we kept our defence line too low,

"At half time, I told my players to prevent Home United from scoring goals by pushing up the defence line and tried to catch them in the process and I didn't expect such a performance in the first half, which we could have done better."

It was a stark contrast that sums up the Protectors' second half game with the effective execution of the tactics by Coach Okuyama to limit the penetration from the home side.

Said Home United coach Lee Lim Saeng:"In the second half, the opponents pushed us that we could not score and it's also something we must keep improving like learning to hold the ball for a long period,

"But it was a deserving win for us, however, we must be humble at this stage given that we are still in the title race with every match is important to us."

Following this win, Home United are slated to take on their arch-rivals Warriors FC in their next match on this Sunday with Albirex are squaring off against the defending league champions Tampines Rovers on the following day.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Juventus 5-0 lesson for Singapore on a sandy surface

Andrea Pirlo - the midfield Mozart
The local should be proud of what they have seen in Singapore Selection side against Italian powerhouses Juventus in the very first football match played in the new National Stadium.

Notable performance by Warriors' goalkeeper Hassan Sunny at goal had at least accounted five saves to deny the "Grand Old Lady" from ripping the Selection apart in the first half.

Eventually, the "Bianconeri" did find their way to the back of the net on two occasions through "dead ball" situations credited to crowd favorite - midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo, who took the honour of being the first goal scorer inside this pristine arena through his efforts in the 16th (free-kick) and 44th minute (penalty).

Historical moment - Pirlo scored the first goal 
Historical moment - Pirlo scored his second goal
However, the same cannot be said for the second period with the Italian side turned on the turbo as early as three minutes after the restart when Paul Pogba tripled the tally from inside the box for having overpowered his marker before drove low beyond the reach of Hassan.

Two more goals later in the game from Sebastian Giovinco and substitute Kwadwo Asamoah completed the 5-0 rout and capped the tour for the defending Serie A champions on a clean sweep of three victories out of three official matches played in Jakarta and Sydney, besides Singapore.

Tussle for the ball
Pogba (second from right) scored the third
It was the only clean sheet as well for Massimiliano Allegri's men in this excursion following goals conceded in their Indonesian and Aussies outings.

However, it was the condition of the playing surface that concerned Coach Allegri and opted not to start another crowd favourite Argentine Carlos Tevez.

Explaining his decision to a question posted by the media, the former AC Milan coach said:"The field condition is not perfect and it is too sandy that I keep Tevez on the bench as a precautionary measure to prevent any further injury to him."

Tevez (second from left) rest for precaution
Stange: "Not proud of 30,000 turnout"
Whilst Selection's coach Bernd Stange is happy with the performance of his boys against opponents of such caliber, he is, however, not happy with the turnout of this match.

Said the German coach:"I am not proud of the thirty thousand (official attendance: 27, 338) when in other countries you would expect a full house against a top class side like Juventus,

"But it was a great event for the Selection against Juventus which first half was an exciting one before they (Juventus) increased their speed in the second half and I am pleased with the performance that won the hearts of the fans."



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