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."

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."

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REST OF THE MATCH PICTURES.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Stange's BIG test against "I Bianconeri"

(L-R) Llorente, Buffon and Allegri
The Bianconeri arrived in Singapore to conclude the final leg of their pre-season Asian Pacific tour that saw them notched up two victories in Indonesia and Australia prior to their arrival on the sunny island.

Following wins against the All-Stars squads of both Indonesian and A-League, Juventus are looking strong to conclude their tour on a high note.

Coach Allegri taking questions from press
"It has been a good preparation so far for our pre season, and we will have two more weeks to work things out before the campaign." said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri at the media conference

Despite having a short session within hours after their landing and still trying to familiarize with the playing surface, the former AC Milan coach is impressed with what he saw at the new National Stadium, the crown jewel of the Singapore Sports Hub.

Gianluigi Buffon - the Azzuri and Juventus skipper

Llorente was a World Cup winner with Spain in 2010
Alongside with Allegri were star goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and striker Fernando Llorente at the media session, which was preceded by the session catered for the Singapore Selection.

The big turnout by the press had the Selection coach Bernd Stange excited.

"It has been four years I had such a big turnout at a press conference, the last one I had was in Paris when I won a game there." said the German coach in his opening brief to the session.

Coach Stange (L) is upbeat of the coming match
"What we have for this match is the future of Singapore football with the local players and foreign players deserved to play for the Selection," added Coach Stange, who led the "mass mobilization" of 41 players to a three-week training tour to Austria recently and the friendly against the "Grand Old Lady" of Italian football presents a perfect chance to show where his works progressed so far.

"This is a promising team that we are using this match to prepare ourselves for the Asian Games and Suzuki Cup (at the end of the year), we are very happy to have Juventus here and looking forward to play this match."

Meanwhile, midfielder Hariss Harun and goalkeeper Hassan Sunny relishing such opportunity to pit against a team like Juventus.

Hariss set to grade himself against Juve
For Hariss, this match would be seen as a gauge of his progress since his switch from Lions XII to Johor Darul Takzim, where he played alongside the likes of ex-Argentine internationals Pablo Aimar and Luciano Figueroa.

Said the 24-year-old:"It is an honour to play with Aimar and Figueroa that had made me a better player, it would be a test (for me) to play against Juve which is going to be difficult, but this is how we learn and I will do my very best to help as much as I can, like the coach (Stange) said this is a preparation for the year end."

Hassan:"A learning experience against Juve"
The similar sentiment is shared by Warriors' goalkeeper Hassan who is taking this match as a learning opportunity from one of the best his department, Juventus skipper Buffon.

"It's a big honour to play against some of the players who recently played in the World Cup like Buffon, who I always look upon to and as well (Carlos) Tevez that I hope to learn as well from this match,

"Also this is the first time I been to here (the new National Stadium) and I don't know what to expect from playing on this new surface that while I am not used to this field because the grass has not fully grown, but we still have to get used to it since this is our stadium." added the 30-year-old custodian.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE REST OF THE DAYS SHOTS.

Friday, August 08, 2014

[PRESS RELEASE] SINGAPORE NATIONAL DAY PROMOTION TREAT FOR JUVENTUS MATCH

(This press release and depicted image are issued by the organizers of the said match)

Juventus will be in Singapore on 16th August
Singapore, August 7: Football fans in Singapore can benefit from a National Day Promotion this weekend for the Singapore Selection v Juventus match – to be played at the National Stadium on August 16.
Tickets purchased for children will be half price if they are bought with an adult ticket using the promotional code ‘NationalDayPack’ from August 8 to 11.

For additional adult/child tickets bought in the same transaction a 10% discount is available. Please refer to the pricing table below.

Juventus sent a “come and see us” message to Singapore fans with an eight-goal exhibition in the opening match of their Asia-Pacific Tour in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Over 60,000 Indonesian supporters were treated to a night to remember as Juventus turned on the style in their 8-1 victory over the ISL All-Stars.

The Italy Serie A champions will head to Singapore with a star-filled squad, headlined by Carlos Tevez, Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba, Andrea Pirlo and recent signing from Manchester United Patrice Evra.

Tickets are on sale at Sports Hub Tix (www.sportshubtix.sg). The match will kick off at 6pm. 

Cat 3 National Day Pack                    
  • Adult S$70 + Child S$22.50 = Total S$92.50

Cat 4 National Day Pack
  • Adult S$45  + Child S$15 = Total S$60

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