Skip to main content


Those who bought the tickets for the international friendly match between Singapore and Argentina on the 13th of June for one reason will have my empathy.

After all, how often do Singaporeans have a chance to see players like Lionel Messi, etc. in live action, when many wanted to see the multi-time FIFA Ballon d'Or recipient showcase his wizardry on the lush Kallang pitch?

Fans holding sign to make known how they felt when Lionel Messi was not playing
The message is clear ...

Therefore, there were signs of anxiety among some ticket-holders when media reports revealed the Barcelona superstar might not be featured in the game to mark the 125th anniversary of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) due to his wedding preparation.

That fear was confirmed when the organizers sent out a late statement last Saturday evening to black and white about the absence of Juventus star Gonzalo Higuain, Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi and Messi following days of speculation on the social media platforms.

Unsurprisingly, many fans felt shortchanged by the last-minute pullout of the triumvirate and registered their unhappiness online when the promotion of the match was largely built on the possibility of having Messi playing at the iconic National Stadium.

Although some fans opined such pullouts are common which happened in the past like when English club Liverpool's visit to the Republic in 2009 saw their then captain Steven Gerrard being omitted from the contingent due to his court case despite being featured prominently on the promotional materials.

Without Messi, there were Paulo Dybala (left) and Angel Di Maria (11)
Without Messi, there were Paulo Dybala (left) and Angel Di Maria (11)

"There was a possibility of having fans bought tickets in the first place wanted to see those star players in live action, however, I think some things (like non-appearance) are beyond the players' control due to unforeseen circumstances," said a friend of mine

"I can't speak for the rest but generally I supposed all fans wanted to see all Liverpool players (when they were here in 2009)," he added by citing the Reds' visit which included a match against the Singapore national team at the old National Stadium.

In the meantime, injury prevented another former Liverpool star Robbie Fowler from playing against Tampines Rovers when he was in town with the now-defunct A-League club North Queensland Fury in the same year, much to the disappointment when many fans came wearing the Reds' jersey with hopes to see the former England striker in action.

Singapore made the first move of the game with Khairul Nizam (22)
Singapore made the first move of the game with Khairul Nizam (22)

Instead, the man, who is known as the "God" to the Kop faithful, gave a speech at the end of the match to explain why he wasn't playing in that game.

Adding to this list was Juventus' decision not to field Carlos Tevez, another Argentine star in the first match to commemorate the reopening of the National Stadium in 2014 due to the infamous "sandy surface".

These unpredictable moments are some of the risks many match promoters have to undertake when organising these kinds of games, as big-name teams and reputable players are always the key factors to push ticket sales.

Understandably, these are always the last things many would want to see, be it the fans or the organizers who seem to be at the mercy of those teams they are going to feature, as illustrated in the statement by Unicess Sports Group, the match promoter for Singapore - Argentina match.

Argentine fans made their presence felt in the 6-0 win over Singapore
Argentine fans made their presence felt in the 6-0 win over Singapore

In response to TODAY's queries on the non-appearance of the notable Argentinian trio, Unicess explained: “We have no control over the squad that is brought to represent Argentina. This is the Argentine Football Association’s (AFA) role and the players that actually play in game is made official by the head coach only just before the game. We believe football fans will understand.”

Certainly, they would love to but not when it was reported by "Daily Mirror" days later after he flew off from Changi, Messi was spotted holidaying with his Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez and Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas.

"Messi has only just returned from Australia after playing for Argentina in a friendly against Brazil in Melbourne and will be hoping to get a well earned rest." wrote the British tabloid.

Indeed, he needs that break before his wedding and on the other hand, Singaporean fans will have to pray hard to see if they ever have a chance to see Messi at Kallang for any of the International Champions Cup tournaments slated from 2018 to 2020.


  1. Let's face it point blank, Singapore fans will not see the likes of Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo if their respective countries come here for a friendly, unless we stage the World Cup, I don't see why these players would bother to come to play in a football backwater known as Singapore. Take heart, our champions mathematicians and science Olympians will like wise never bother to visit countries like Argentina, Brazil or Portugal

  2. I don't bother to watch these meaningless money-spinning friendlies. 95,000 fans turned up in Melbourne to and paid minimum $79 to watch a bunch of uninterested footballers on a post-season junket after they have been stretched to the limits during the the regular season with their clubs. Neymar pulled out for Brazil and didn't seem the slightest bit remorseful about it.


Post a Comment

While I allow comment/feedback to be posted using Anonymous mode but comments containing discrimination of race, derogatory terms and seditious remarks will NOT be tolerated and will be deleted, if necessary, at the blog owner

Please do not abuse it, thanks

And the blog owner WILL not be responsible for comments by visitors except those of his own

All comments are subjected to moderation and publish upon determination, thanks

Thank You for your kind attention

Ko Po Hui

Please Check Out These Posts Below Before You Leave

Wishful Thinking...

End of #TheBerndStangeShow

Coach Stange remains defiant amid criticism ahead of Syrian test

[AFC Cup] - A Journey of Triumphs and Challenges for Singaporean Clubs

[Media Information] Singapore to face China PR, Jordan and Iraq in the Third Round of the 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP BRAZIL ™ ASIAN QUALIFIERS