Yet, the irony is we still need those past glories to inspire the newer generations to push the boundaries to do better than their predecessors.
Mat Noh embraced Uncle Choo after beat Malaysia 1-0 (New Nation)
It was a time when Singapore, the host, were ranked outsiders in this tournament which featured regional powerhouses like Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia as well.
How would one expect the Lions to do well against a technically superior Malaysia team who still boasted the likes of “Spiderman” R Arumugam, “Towkay” Soh Chin Aun, Santokh Singh, Wong Choon Wah, James Wong, etc. in the absence of the legendary Mokhtar Dahari who was injured?
Yet a hotly disputed penalty which was 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) resulted a stunning one-nil win over their more illustrious opponents gave the island nation a glimpse of hope that would see them face stronger 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)|
SIDESHOWS LEADING TO 12TH MARCH 1977
Interesting snippets during the build up to the game included an unsuccessful attempt by a fan who rang up the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to seek a possibility of granting him a complimentary ticket to the match as it was his birthday on the same day.
A feature by The Straits Times on the wives of several Singapore players revealed how they coped with their husbands' national team commitments on top of their families' ones with a number of them lamented that sense of “loneliness” when their men were away on duty.
The most hilarious incident was probably a prank call that alerted the FAS of 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 realised it was a hoax.
Asami answered his critics via proxy (The Straits Times)
THE END RESULT
Lau Wing Yip's 32nd minute goal broke the hearts of the 60,000 partisan fans at the old National Stadium and hundreds of thousands of those watching at home to seal the 1-0 win for the Hong Kongers.
|The showdown on 12th March 1977 (The Straits Times)|
“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 Bakar Daud who was quoted by The Straits Times on the game day.
|Singapore's performance was lauded (The Straits Times)|
The game (the match highlights above, alternate source) may have lost but that particular night in March 1977 went down in Singapore football folklore as one of the key milestones for the sheer determination shown along the way to overcome those obstacles to bond a young nation together.
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)|
However, please be assured these images and video clip are meant illustration purpose only and not other usage.)