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."

Monday, September 03, 2012

The Day A Girl Sobbed For The Lions in March 1977

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

Yet, the irony, at times, is that we certainly do need those past glories to draw some inspirations to spur for better things to come from the newer generations after their predecessors' achievements.

In months to come with the AFF Suzuki Cup scheduled to decide who will reign the regional football supremacy again, I do hope the following paragraphs will help to that cause to resuscitate the doldrums we all facing now.

Mat Noh embraced Uncle Choo (New Nation)
1977 Pre-World Cup Qualifiers (Asia Zone Group One) in Singapore
It was a time when host Singapore was ranked outsiders for the tournament with powerhouses in the calibre of Hong Kong and Malaysia joined by Thailand, Indonesia as well.

How would one expect the Lions to do well against the technically superior Malaysians, despite not having the legendary Mokhtar Dahari, who was injured then, but still having the likes of “Spiderman” R Arumugam, “Towkay” Soh Chin Aun, Santokh Singh, Wong Choon Wah, James Wong etc.?

Yet a stunning one-nil win over its more illustrious opponents with a hotly disputed penalty 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) had given the island nation that glimpse of hope to exceed beyond its expectation that might seen them battling out against 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 eventually dashed in the end with a one-all draw with Hong Kong that set the stage for a match that was opined by many as a “David versus Goliath” showdown which many suggested the professional Hong Kong squad being the more accomplished side against the amateur Singaporeans.

Sideshows to 12th March 1977
Interesting snippets during the build up to the game included an unsuccessful attempt by a fan who rang up FAS to seek the possibility of granting him a complimentary ticket to the match as it was his birthday on the same day.

The Straits Times did a feature with some national players' wives on how they coped with their husbands' national team commitments on top of their families' ones, which a number of them lamented that sense of “loneliness” when their men were away on duty.

Asami answered his critics via proxy (The Straits Times)
While one of the most hilarious incidents was probably a prank call that alerted FAS 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 realized it was a hoax.

At the meantime, Toshio Asami (pictured right), the Japanese referee who handled the “Causeway Derby” days earlier gave his side of the story (through a proxy source) after the questionable decisions that riled the Malaysians who felt those rulings marred their chances (which is something rarely heard of till these days when match officials openly explained their decisions).

The End Result....
Lau Wing Yip's 32nd minute goal broke the hearts of the 60,000 partisan fans at the already demolished National Stadium and hundreds of thousands of those watching at home (and probably at the “Plaza” Theater whose operators made a special arrangement to update the cinema goers of the scores then) to seal the 1-0 win for the visitors.

The showdown on 12th March 1977 (The Straits Times)
Yet, the Singapore side didn't let their adoring fans by putting up a gusty performance in spite of what the then Malaysians' team manager Bakar Daud 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 Daud as quoted on The Straits Times on the game day.

Singapore's performance was lauded (The Straits Times)

The game (the match highlights above, alternate source) may had lost but that particular night in March 1977 went down to Singapore football annals as one of the milestone moments for that sheer determination and toils shown along the way to overcome those obstacles to bond a young nation together then.

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)
That was in a time when stuff like “Facebook” and “Twitter” were not in existence, but we certainly do hope whoever is going to be in the national team in November will still be backed by those like the girl who cried over the phone 35 years ago...

(P.S: All scanned images were reproduced from NLB archives and match highlights clip was sourced from here, should anyone feel it's inappropriate to have them 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 means.

Last but not least, the links from the sources - and Style Mesti Ada, that allow this entry to surface, thank you)

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