Sunday, January 24, 2010

Eagles dealt yet another friendly defeat

Geylang United FC 2-3 Woodlands Wellingtion FC

37” Vasile Ghindaru , 47” Miroslav Latiak

36” 62"Lakkad Abdelhadi, 50” Kazuki Yoshino

Date: 23 January 2010
Location: Bedok Stadium

A double strike by Moroccan Lakkad Abdelhadi consigned Geylang United to a second friendly loss in a week as it enabled Woodlands Wellingtion to come away from Bedok with a 3-2 victory on Saturday.

This result meant that the Eagles have achieved only one win out of their six pre-season friendlies and that came against amateur side Singapore Cricket Club.

The 5pm kickoff time meant that the first half was played under scorching heat conditions and it took both sets of players awhile to settle down.

With regards to the Geylang starting line-up, it had a familiar look to it with only defensive lynchpin Rastislav Belicak (injured) and star forward Masrezwan Masturi (bench) missing. In their places came Jonathan Xu and promising starlet Yasir Hanapi.

In the 12th minute, the Eagles had their first shot at the Rams’ goal after good approach play by Miroslav Latiak resulted in Yasir producing a beautiful curling attempt that was pushed away by the Rams’ keeper Hafez Mawasi for a corner.

Five minutes later, new signing Itimi Dickson whipped in a brilliant effort direct from a free-kick out from the left which needed a goalline intervention by the Woodlands’ defence.

Slowly, the away team was beginning to threaten with former Geylang trainee Sazali Salleh and Lakkad looking to do damage.

In the 36th minute, the Woodlands’ pair dealt the Eagles the first blow. After Sazali broke into the danger area, the ball was laid off for Lakkad whose shot took a wicked bounce which deceived Eagles custodian Yazid Yasin and into goal.

However, the Rams’ joy did not last long as Geylang pulled level almost immediately.
Syed Thaha swung in a free-kick from the far side which was met with a looping heading into the far post from new Romanian signing Vasile Ghindaru. At half time, the score stood at one apiece.

The Eagles went into the lead two minutes after the break. Masrezwan, who had replaced the ineffective Peter Tomko, produce a decent attempt which was deflected out for a corner.

Off the resulting set piece, Latiak put the Eagles ahead 2-1 with a shot from outside the box after the Rams’ defence failed to clear their lines.

This time round, it was the Eagles who could not hold on to their lead for long.

From an initial corner situation for Woodlands in the 50th minute, the Geylang backline could not clear convincingly. This led to Rams’ centrehalf Winston Yap teeing up his partner in defence Kazuki Yoshino. The Japanese kept his composure to steer a stinging shot into Yazid’s goal to pull the scores level once again.

The equaliser seemed to galvanise the Rams as they started to look more dangerous.
In the 62nd minute, former Eagles captain Noor Ali led a raid down into the Eagles box where he was upended by Jonathan.

Lakkad stepped up to net the Rams’ third goal for the evening which turned out to be the winner.

Along the way during the second period, Coach Mike Wong made several positional changes to the players in search for the right formula with Ghindaru, Syed Fadhil and Shah Hirul all inter-switching positions.

But it seems that tactical switches and substitutions were to no avail as the Eagles struggled to find a reply.

There was a fine chance in the 82th minute when Masrezwan combined well with substitute Hafiz Rahim to set up Latiak, whose attempt on his weaker right foot was pushed away by the Rams’ keeper.

On the stroke of full time, it was Latiak again with the shot but this time it was off target and the referee ended the game soon after.

Coach Mike Wong revealed post-match that the team needs to improve on aspects like tactical awareness and team cohesion and that it is crucial to put these issues right on the training ground before the campaign begins.

The Eagles will next face Sengkang Punggol in their last pre-season friendly on Tuesday, 26 Jan, at the Hougang Stadium. Kick-off will be at 5pm.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

2010 S-League - The 12th team saga

The debacle about the decision to exclude Yishun Super Reds has left many among the local football community seething.

From what I have gathered over the past week, it seems there is indeed a strong, passionate local base in the Yishun area where the attractive Sembawang Rangers used to be based. They probably have been sick of the sights of Young Lions & the Korean Super Reds being the home team @ Yishun Stadium over the years.

Indeed the northern part of the island seem to have the most vociferous fans, if you take into account the excellent crowd of the Woodlands Rams even though their football have not been the best to watch since 2006 when the star studded team strut their stuff there.

Coming back to the Yishun team story, it seemed that the FAS people had many doubts about their credentials despite the plans that the chairman had. Perhaps it should be made known to the public to try soften the anger that many fans and players have felt.

Actually when I saw the names of players that were initially training for Yishun, I did think it was a decent team with the 3 foreign players then. However it definitely will be a super uphill task to take them to a decent position as results do not come on paper.

Furthermore, it is a risk to incorporate these newly formed teams into the league. Paya Lebar Punggol was a real disaster a few years ago and probably that made the selection committee cautious. Then again, with the Korean influence on the team, maybe it will do ok. But is maybe good enough?

So question is then if the Yishun Reds got into the league and are languishing lowly in the table, will the crowd still be there? I suspect this is another grey area for FAS.

Footballing wise, my personal feel is that Beijing (correction, its not Dalian as previously mentioned) will put up a decent showing with their youth team or whatever. Their reputation is VERY VERY different from the rest of the Chinese teams that have played in the league so far.

Sinchi, Liaoning are newly formed clubs ZERO experience. I meant this both on and off the field.

Beijing however is a different proposition as I know they are one of the biggest team (Dalian too)in China. Its somewhat an Albirex model being replicated.

The question of whether this foreign club attraction that started with Albirex has stagnanted for some time.

But Beijing will probably have difficulty attracting the local crowd to watch them, as many have stated. Much will depend on the brand of football that they can serve up to the hungry Yishun crowd who are already sharpening their knifes for FAS’ throats.

We will not get "TOK" by FIFA

Singaporeans should not be held to ransom by FIFA’s outrageous demands for the World Cup telecast rights.

Read somewhere that the $100m price for Singapore was set based on the GDP per capita whereas the other countries are slightly different?

My thinking is if the end consume has to pay obscene prices for catch the tournament, then I rather both telcos don’t bid for it as they will ultimately pass on the costs to us consumers.

Probably the telcos already know the range which locals is likely to fork out and would like avoid the potential losses.

Anyway, I think I will be probably satisfied with the 4 FOC matches on Mediacorp. Working life probably will not allow me the freedom to catch games anyway.

So, for the rest of Singapore, besides catching the games online/via antenna for Indonesian connections, I would suggest going on wkends getaway trips to JB or Batam to catch the games.

Monday, January 18, 2010


The fourth matchup of the Eagles’ pre-season saw them take on their semi-final conquest of last season’s Singapore Cup, Albirex Niigata(S) at the Jurong East Stadium.

After spending the past three days in a team-bonding camp away from the football pitch, this friendly game provided the boys in green another chance to have a good workout for the upcoming campaign.

Adrian Dhanaraj started his first pre-season game in defence alongside Rastislav Belicak and Siddiq Durimi, who like utility man, Syed Fadhil, has returned to the Eagles fold after a short stint at Home United.

Romanian signing Vasile Ghindaru held the fort in the middle while upfront saw main man Masrezwan Masturi partner the newly acquired Slovak forward, Peter Tomko.

And it was Tomko who had the first notable attempt at goal in the 15th minute when he swiveled past his marker and produced a stiff shot on the turn which warmed the gloves of the Albirex keeper.

Aside from that, the Eagles only managed to conjure up shots from distance as both Syed Thaha and Miroslav Latiak tried their luck at goal.

The Japanese proved that they are never easy opponent on their home turf, hitting the crossbar once and having a two decent penalty shouts turned down by the referee in the opening 45 minutes.

Perhaps being away from the field for the past few days had an effect on the team as play was scrappy for most part of the first period.

The second half threatened to follow suit till a series of substitutions saw the game open up more.

Coach Mike Wong took the chance once again to blood in youngsters as he would require his whole squad for the Eagles’ impending battle on three fronts.

Senior players like Walid Lounis, Shah Hirul and Hafiz Rahim were also given run outs as the changes ringed in.

In the 70th minute, Jonathan Xu, who had come on earlier for the injured Siddiq, wasted a glorious chance when he blasted against the post following a corner situation.

Two minutes later, a well-weighted pass saw Tomko raced through on goal only to be denied illegally inside the box. Up stepped Itimi Dickson but his weak effort denied the fans inside the stadium something to cheer for.

A third chance in quick succession for the Eagles arrived shortly, when off a freekick swung in by Itimi, the ball ricochet somehow into the path of Walid. But the Tunisian-born player wastefully toe-poked the ball off target from three metres out.

The game then stagnated towards the end that saw the match end goalless.

Coach Mike Wong post-match commented that though the bonding camp had done good for team spirit, there is more work that need to be done on the pitch and that he will be drilling his charges harder in the coming two weeks to prepare them well for the battles ahead.

The pre-season schedule next see the Eagles take on Woodlands Wellington on the 26th Jan (Saturday) at the Woodlands Stadium.

Friday, January 15, 2010

S-League Pre-season Warm Ups - 16th Jan

As we countdown to the 2010 S-League season, the 2 eastern based clubs will be in pre-season action on Sat, 16 Jan.

@Tampines Stadium, 5pm - Tampines Rovers take on the NFA U-18 team.

@ Jurong East Stadium, 5pm - Cup-winners the Geylang Eagles take on their semi-final conquest Albirex.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Singapore Vs Iran review (part 2)

There also so many thoughts that I like to share from the aftermath of the Asian Cup qualifier match bwtn Singapore and Iran that I dunno where to start from.

Ok lets not talk about Sun Baojie the referee, cause we all know he’s a bastard. Anyone got template for death treat letter? Perhaps we can issue him one…

Next, yes Iran is an traditional Asian soccer powerhouse.

But for all of that, we know that teamwork & tactical organization can help to neutralize opposition’s individual and Raddy’s team in the past have shown to be capable of being organized and frustrating the opposition.

With that in mind, I don’t care whether it is Iran, Japan, Korea. The fact is we are capable of holding our own against these teams if the Lions play to their true ability and semangat.

Now lets try to decipher more of last night’s game and my views.

Mental aspect - Players too emotional
Raddy was right. The players again could not recover from that mental block after the penalty conceded and the soft goal given away for Iran’s second.

Understandably, Precious & Farra lost their confidence and morale and this filtered through the team.

The goal NAS pulled back then gave the Lions their best spell where they played with more belief, but not necessarily the calmness and guile.

It was the same during the 2nd half up till we got counter-attacked for the third goal, it was more brute than guile.

Subsequently after our net got bulged for the third time, most of our Lions hearts sank, including the fans & ‘spectators’.

When NAS got into some entanglement with the Iran players, I suspect that it will affect him after that and it did. The concentration just wasn’t there anymore.

Concentration is the key. Being emotional to have to spirit to win is one thing, able to handle that emotion and turn it into good performance to ensure that is another.

Formation, Tactics, Players
4-4-2 with 2 defensive mids? Perhaps a 4-4-1-1 when you already knew that we were trying to at least not to lose this game and attempt to win if possible. Yes it was impotant to denfd deep but playing 2 up resulted in gaps between the central mids and the fwds.

Anyway I never thought Aleks and NAS can form a good partnership, and I think they never managed to. Bascially they are 2 fwds who play with their physical presence. You might think this is unfair for Aleks when he plays in the S-League, but in int’l games, his average footwork come to nought.

I would think you needed a more ‘guile’ player like Shahril Ishak, Indra, or Khairul to play behind Aleks or NAS, or possibly Agu, when he recovers in a 4-4-1-1 against more technical teams.

Farra & Hariss together? A fellow blogger has acknowledged perhaps its another similarity in style. Actually I do share the same sentiments to a certain extent. But Hariss do venture more. Just that I felt that a withdrawn striker or attacking midfield player will complement it better.

N man, I did think Hariss was one of those who put it a decent showing last night, considering his inexperience at intl level.

Noh Rahman for Farra?

I have said umpteen times. Noh Rahman can play in a DM position, BUT, only either in a 3 man centre midfield, OR, in the Sleague.

One must understand, there is a difference in requirement for DM in a 2 man and a 3 man centre midfield.

Considering last night’s situation, I thought Shi Jiayi would have been a better option. A better passer who spreads play, rather than bring on another DM. But then again, Jiayi has just recovered from some injury I think.

Then again, am I in a position to question Raddy?

My next entry will probably talk about the general deficiencies facing the Singapore Lions. I am already gathering some thoughts.

Singapore Vs Iran review (part 1)

When I knew I was going to be late for the match because I missed a bus, I got irritated as I was plain unlucky.

Checked the electroinic next bus monitor at the bus stop, and then i saw nxt bus arriving in 21 min. C'mon, how can there be a 21 min interval ??? Btw, i was trying to catch Service 14 from Dhoby Ghaut.

Once alighted, rushed to the stadium, just as I chiong up the stairs to the Gallery, i heard boos. Bloody hell, penalty awarded when I haven even got to my seat. Good.

As usual took my seat near the centre of the field. To my disgust, I found a large grp of Iranian supporters there. Had expected the Lions die-hard to be there at first.

So it will be in this position where my review will come from ( to be continued..)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Iran - Possibly the last Lions' opponent @ Kallang

After being criticised by many for giving up the hosting of the 2013 SEA Games, I supposed the SSC will now get their act together and that the Sports Hub construction will get underway in early 2010.

With no real football matchups scheduled for the early half of 2010, traditional Asian powerhouse Iran could well be the last opponent to grace the Grand Old Lady that is Kallang.

With its European players like Masoud Shojaei, Javad Nekounam, Ali Karimi apparently still suspended due to political reasons, we would definitely miss some star appeal but i guessed we probably would not mind.

But we still cant discount the locally-based Iranians as they are still far ahead of us in many aspects like technique, etc.

However, my own perspective is that the current Iranian is no kingpins of Asia and definitely not among its best team in recent times.

After recent friendlies with Oman, where performances have been poor and disunity among the Lions, I seriously hope the Lions can conjure up a good performance on Wednesday to edge Singapore a step closer to the Asian Cup next year.

Any form of housekeeping or bucking up could be taken care by Raddy after our place is secured.

So now, I am hoping for a big upset and something humongous for local fans to cheer about on Wednesday evening.

Let's draw positives from the 2006 qualifying matchup against Iraq where I was at Kallang to witness it first hand.

This Wednesday, I will be there once again, carrying a big hope inside which I wouldn't show...