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, October 09, 2016

Why Daniel And Farra Are Essential Now ...

Close to 25,000 watched the Causeway Challenge
Honestly speaking, the recent Causeway Challenge fixture between Singapore and Malaysia shall go down to history as one of those anti-climax games in recent years.

Apart from both teams used this friendly to finalize their preparation for the AFF Suzuki Cup next month, it always not uncommon to have both the Lions and Harimau (Tigers) trying to claim supremacy over each other since both went separate way in 1965.

Any match featuring these two nations would usually wipe up those chest-pumping patriotism sentiments on both sides of the Causeway, but the mood during the run up to the match played last Friday at the iconic National Stadium at Kallang resulted a much mundane affair.

Perhaps much of that "damp squid" ambience have to do with ongoing misfortune that plagued the football fraternities of both sides.

(L-R) Coach Sundram and Malaysia's coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee
One of those contributing factors was both sides weren't able to pencil their best starting eleven in their first meeting on the same turf since 2014.

With the Malaysian squad is rocked by international retirement of several key players, their neighbours down south are handicapped by injuries to a number of their regular starters in recent months.

And it came no surprise on Lions caretaker coach V Sundram moorthy's part to recall veterans like Geylang International's Daniel Bennett and Tampines Rovers' Fahrudin Mustafic out from wilderness to help to steer the ship on choppy waters.

38-year-old Bennett repaid that faith shown on him by utilized his experience to keep the Malaysians at bay on last weekend, despite having not played at that level after forced into international retirement by former Lions coach Bernd Stange for almost four years.

Bennett (second from left) led an example
The English-born defender combined well with Baihakki Khaizan at the back to allow the usual center back Safuwan Baharudin to move upfront to act as a backup to chief striker Khairul Amri.

While that move did not reap any dividend against the Harimau on that day, it allowed some flexibility in the attacking deployment when the likes of Shahdan Sulaiman and Fazrul Nawaz are not available due to injuries.

Rock Steady Farra
Furthermore, the inclusion of Mustafic, who can fit as stopper and midfield anchor, in the squad added the much needed experience and calmness to cope with pacey teams like Thailand and Philippines during the Suzuki Cup group games (if both Bennett and Mustafic are in the finalized squad).

Nonetheless, some feedback from the grapevine voiced their concern if the inclusion of those naturalized players suggested the dearth of fresh talents that failed to churn out from the pipeline in recent years?

I would rather put it down as the lack of the transition - the passing of baton from the old guards to the new ones - when Stange first took charge and led to what we are facing today.

Till this day, I still maintain it was a miscalculated move by the German to end the international careers of those senior players, beside Bennett and Mustafic, in a hastily manner in favour of having a younger national team.

Since then, have we not seen players who were touted to be potential replacements but only to be flash-in-the-pan who lasted only a few games before fallen out of the radar?

Hougang United's Iqbal Hussain
At the meantime, some were puzzled why newcomers likes of Iqbal Hussain, Shawal Anuar or Irfan Fandi weren't given an opportunity to play against Malaysia for "a feel of it" which I think Coach Sundram had already made it clear the upcoming match versus Hong Kong will see him field his potential first eleven for the biennial regional showpiece.

Therefore, it shall be focused on getting the shape ready instead of experiment a few more tactics like he did during the Japan training trip weeks ago.

The convincing display by the back quartet that night shall be a relief for the man who just celebrated his 51st birthday, although his bigger problem now is how not to see his forwards hit the crossbar thrice again like they did on past Friday.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Proposed FAS Constitution Put On HOLD for 'Further DIscussion'

(L-R) Zainudin Nordin and Bernand Tan
The much-anticipated proposed constitution was not put into discussion when the motion on it was removed abruptly from the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) Annual General Meeting (AGM) held earlier at its Jalan Besar Stadium (JBS) headquarters.

Explaining the reason of the removal of the cornerstone topic from the AGM, FAS Vice-President Bernand Tan said it was “not easy to decide” citing factors like feedback from the members at the very late hours.

“It (the proposed constitution) is something should not be taken lightly and it is not easy to decide (the removal of the motion on it) when there are members requested 'more time' till yesterday night (for further discussions).” said Tan in the media conference held right after the conclusion of the AGM.

When prompted on whether the local game governing body had set a time frame on confirming the said constitution that is to align itself with what FIFA requires from its member associations that forbids any form of third-party involvement such as government interference which saw bans served in the past to neighbouring countries like Indonesia and Brunei.

“Before the new constitution (is approved), it will be governed by the old constitution,” said Tan, who was joined by outgoing FAS President Zainudin Nordin in the media briefing, resonated that existing one is endorsed by the world governing body.

“It will be a lengthy process and there is no time frame for this as countries like Japan and Australia took years before having one which is something we might had underestimated in the first place,

“We will be writing to all our members as we will continue in our engagement with them on this issue.” he added while divulged some issues brought up by clubs such as the number of members that will form the FAS council, the criteria of the office-holder for the post of the president, etc.

Earlier on, Zainudin gave his last opening speech as the president in the AGM that took place in the VIP Lounge in the JBS.

Some of the key things highlighted in that speech by the former Member of Parliament included the importance of both National Football League (NFL) and Island Wide League (IWL) in the local football ecosystem, further improvement to be made in schools' and women's football.

Following that, Balestier Khalsa's chairman S Thavaneson, in his capacity as a FAS Council member, presented the financial statements to delegates that saw a few of them raised their opinions in the open discussion in particular over the budgeting issues.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

[AFC Cup] Brave Stags Ended Their Asian Dreams Painfully But Gracefully

Izwan Mahbud ended his first club continental venture
Without any doubt, it was a painful exit from the tournament that saw Tampines Rovers ended their continental campaign in the hands of Bengaluru FC of India after a goal-less affair which allowed the latter to cruise to the AFC Cup semi-final stage on a wafer-thin advantage of an aggregate score of one goal to none.

Nonetheless, the Stags shouldn't be faulted for tried all means to put themselves back on level terms when they signalled their intention right from the start with the series of offenses they launched towards the team from Bangalore who elected to opt for a safety first approach by being the absorber of those raids.

Amrinder Singh (1) raised above all to fist the ball 
Hafiz Abu Sujad (16) tried his luck from a distance
Such conservative tactics seems to serve the Indian side well as the designated home team who were left frustrated on countless of occasions on those chances they failed to convert throughout the game.

When asked after the match if such execution of plan by their opponents was a successful one against his luckless side, Tampines' coach Akbar Nawas felt otherwise.

“Do you think so?” replied Coach Akbar when the question was fielded by a member of the media. “I think they (Bengaluru) were tenacious in closing down our attacks by disrupting our midfield, so I don't think so.”

John Johnson (left) got Irwan Shah (right) covered
However, the former NFA staff coach acknowledged his side's continuing lack of firepower of late, a stark contrast of what it was usually associated to his side at the start of the year.

"We will have to go into deeper analysis, both technically and mentally, to find out the reason why (we couldn't score)," lamented Coach Akbar on those ruined opportunities which he attributed to reasons like the absence of key players like striker Fazrul Nawaz and midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman.

Despite crushing out from the tournament, it is definitely one of the better showings in this second-tier club competition by the five-time S.League champions in recent years who last made it to the quarter-final stage back in 2007 against Al-Faisaly of Jordan.

Johnson (left) tussled with Yasir Hanapi (13) for the ball
That is something the 40-year-old tactician would want to draw some positivities from this run.

“We tried our best and played our hearts out and the players deserved a pat on their back for the efforts shown that I hope this run will extend from here.” added Coach Akbar whose side will resume their league fixtures on 1st of October when they take on defending champions Brunei DPMM at Jurong West.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

[Singapore Cup] Albirex Kept Unprecedented Dream Alive After Tepid Win ...

Anxious moments for Balestier (yellow)
It was not the best game to be shown on live television but it really does not matter when you were able to get the job done at the end of the day like Albirex Niigata (Singapore) did at Toa Payoh earlier.

One would expect the Japanese side to go all out to secure a bigger buffer in the second-leg of RHB Singapore Cup semi-final match against Balestier Khalsa whom they had a wafer-thin one-goal advantage carried into this match.

Atsushi Kawata (left) closely monitored 
But none of that urgency was shown in the match that was best described as uninspiring and tepid encounter which most would not associated to the usual intensity of a Cup game.

Barred for some anxious moments in the Balestier's penalty area in the first half when Albirex found themselves tried to break down the Tigers' resilience at the back, there wasn't much action to keep the sporadic crowds at the ground or viewers at home at the edge of their seats.

Ho Wai Loon (right) kept things check against Tatsuro Inui
So much so when substitute Rui Kumada headed home in the 82nd minute to make the score two-nil on aggregate, there was barely any euphoria erupted in this stadium and things proceeded as per normal after the match was restarted before referee W Ravisanthiran blew to end the game following four minutes of stoppage added on.

With this victory, the reigning League Cup holders confirmed their berth in the Cup final where they will be facing Tampines Rovers, their closest rivals in the S.League title as well.

When asked if it would be a concern for his side to take on the Stags twice in four days apart in late October with the potential title race decider on the 26th followed by the final on the 29th , Albirex's coach Naoki Naruo elected to stay focused on their next league fixture against Geylang International on 22nd of this month.

Niko Tokic (left) in tussle with Shuto Inaba
Said the 42-year-old tactician:“My focus will be on our next game against Geylang (International) and to win as many points as possible in our remaining matches.”

“I am happy with the tonight's result and it was a difficult match when it was played on natural turf (unlike the artificial surface at Jurong East) that we were not able to play our usual passing game, but I am satisfy with the team's overall performance this evening.” he added.

Friday, September 09, 2016

[Event] Battle Of Europe Set to Rock This November ...

(This entry is formulated by the media release issued by Full Circle PR, the PR agency for the "Battle Of Europe 2016")

(L-R) Karl-Heinz Riedle and Darren Anderton
Leading up to the highly-anticipated showdown of one of the greatest footballing rivalries will see England Masters take on their German counterparts – a match that is set to bring fans back down to the memory lane with arrays of stars from yesteryears ready to thrill them this coming November at Kallang.

As part of the building up to the match - Battle Of Europe, which is to be played on the 12th of November at the National Stadium, former German international Karl-Heinz Riedle alongside ex-England and Tottenham Hotspur star Darren Anderton made their appearance at the media conference held this afternoon at Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, the event official hotel.

(L-R) Steve Black having a chat with Riedle
In his opening speech, Steven Black, the CEO of Masters Football Asia (the match organizers) said:“Football is in the DNA of the people here. Fans here have always been supportive and we welcome that.

“This summer we’ve had big international events like the Euros and the Olympics, and this international feeling has been the main catalyst for us bringing the Battle Of Europe to Singapore.

“We’ve had great fun putting the teams together – they’re very competitive teams – and there are more names to be announced.” he added.

Anderton capped for England 30 times
Riedle was known for his heading ability
At the time of this publication, some of those players (subject to availability) slated to make their trip to Singapore read the likes of David James (ex-England and Liverpool 'keeper), Teddy Sheringham (former Tottenham and Manchester United striker), Dietmar Hamann (ex-Germany and Liverpool midfielder) with former German World Cup winning skipper Lothar Matthaus to grace the occasion, as well.

Relishing the opportunity again to represent Germany against one of their greatest rivals in the sport, Riedle said:“It’s a pleasure to be able to come here to play against a great nation like England. For Germany, playing against England is always a big deal, and we’re hoping for the match to be a really big success.”

Echoed the similar sentiment is Anderton when he added on to the former World Cup winning striker's thought.

Said the 44-year-old:“I am really looking forward to it. It’s great being in Singapore, and the rivalry is a massive one.”

Event: Battle Of Europe – England Masters vs Germany Masters
Date: 12 November 2016, Saturday
Time: Gates open at 5.30pm, kick-off at 7pm

Tickets for Battle Of Europe 2016 presented by Masters Football Asia are available at and Sports Hub Tix

Tickets start from $19; family packages (two adults & two children below the age of 12) are available at $100 and VIP Packages at $200. Sports Hub Tix and NETS are also running promotions to win exclusive VIP experiences, and fans are advised to purchase tickets early to avoid disappointment.


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