Monday, November 22, 2010

100 Goals Award: Mohd Noor Ali - The ever smiling joker of the pack

Recapturing S.League everpresent Mohd Noor Ali's 15 year stint in our local league which cumulated in his 100 goal achievement in 2010.

Geylang United: 2000-2004
Champion in 2001

Geylang United: 2008-2009

Champion: RHB Singapore Cup 2009

Two S-League titles & 1 Singapore Cup with SAFFC (2005-2007)

Winner of Tiger Cup 1998

We often hear that a hardworking man will be bound to get his due reward. On S-League Awards Night 2010, a man who has given almost all his playing career to the S-League since its inception - Mohd Noor Ali, finally got his dues.

“It is always a dream for a player to come to Awards Night and receive an award. It is something that I have been looking forward to and it is nice to get it exactly at the age right now”, he beamed.

Then in his usual tongue-in-cheek style, he added, “I definitely can’t wait another 14 years to score another 100 goals right?”

Despite a paltry return of just three goals this season in all competition, the evergreen attacker was helped by his work in his earlier years as he became the tenth player to join an exclusive club of names who have notched 100 goals in the local game.

Noor Ali started out as a raw winger on the roster of Tampines Rovers when the league was formed in 1996. Impressive performances in the following seasons for the Stags earned him his international break which hit a high when he was part of the Tiger Cup winning squad of 1998. In 2000, eastern giants Geylang United came calling and along with his best friend Azhar Baksin, Noor Ali made the switch to Bedok.

A year later, with the Eagles under the tutelage of Malaysian Cup stalwart Jang Jung, Noor Ali clinched his first S-League medal as Geylang finally broke the stranglehold of the uniformed groups that year.

It proved to be his only piece of silverware at club level before his SAFFC stint between 2005-2007. Along the way, he also suffered a low when he was suspended for the entire 2003 season due to breaking of the players’ conduct rulebooks.

However, the man came back hungrier and with a point to prove, he raised his performances as he captained SAFFC to two more titles and a Singapore Cup trophy. Noor Ali then spent his next two seasons back at Bedok where he clinched another RHB Singapore Cup in 2009 before heading north to Woodlands for this recently concluded campaign.

Revisiting his goalscoring exploits in the earlier seasons, the man was adamant that it was his first stint with the Eagles which ultimately led him to this award.

“The best period for me was during my time at Geylang. That was the time where I scored a lot of goals, between 2000 and 2004”, Noor Ali said.

Over the years, we have seen less of his aggressive nature on the field that was common in his younger days. Perhaps married life and the captain’s armband has calmed him down more. Nowadays, Noor Ali is always seen as an easy going personality, the joker among the pack.

“I am always happy wherever I go, even at Woodlands now”, he quipped.

“After I came from my suspension up till now, I have keep on been winning things. I really have to thank all my family who have been supporting me”. Indeed family is always a word the man has on his mouth in recent years when the media reflects on his good performances.

As to upcoming plans for him, Noor Ali said, “Actually I can retire now, but I don’t intend to, as long as I can pass my Beep test”.

Unable to curb his itch for a dig at his good friend who stepped into the media zone, he exclaimed, “If Aleksander Duric can play till forty with his i/c (identification certification) change, I will try to play on!”

“But if there was an award for 600 misses, Aleks would have won it by now. He should have won the top scorer award if not for that”, Noor Ali chuckled.

“He is one player that we always look forward for motivation. It is an honour for me to go up on the same stage as him.”

Upcoming plans

On a more serious note, Noor Ali expressed his desire to continue in the game after his eventual retirement.

“I am doing my ‘A’ licence in March. But not too fast as I still want to enjoy the S-League.”

At the moment, he is keeping his options open to new offers and indicated that a player-assistant coach role would also suite him fine as it would be a good opportunity to learn the management side of the game.

“I am happy when I see the younger ones coming up and do well. I hope to pass on my knowledge and experience to the younger ones”.

National team

When quizzed whether his had regrets about not making more appearances for the national team, Noor Ali replied confidently, “I have no regrets in whatever I do. I quit the national team in 2005, I am happy that they are doing well and winning things. At that time, there were also a lot of young players coming in, which was a fantastic thing.”

“I have done my part for national team. I have played in the SEA Games, played and won the Tiger Cup. So right now it is time for me to pass down all my knowledge.”

Expect to see more of this wily veteran attacker for a couple of more years to come. With players sorting out their contracts in the coming weeks, would anyone dare to rule out a return to Tampines for a final Noor Ali-Duric combo in the 2011 season?

If you get another chance ,dun waste it ALIFF!

I hope the recent incident on Cup Final morning can wake Aliff up. Just have this feeling perhaps the Stags will give him one final chance to wake up his idea, especially if they cant add on quality players. If Aliff is desperate, punish him with a lower fixed package but with add-ons if he changes for the better. If not, based on tactics, I would want to see him at Geylang playing the in the 'hole'. Coach Mike, Lieutenant Lim & General Seak have the potential to whip him into shape.

"The Little Master" definitely is talented, the pictures which i went to dig my magazines dates back to a 1995 street soccer tournament when he was selected to represent Singapore in Berlin and impressed the contestants there as well.
This was a player whom Jita Singh roped into his Police FC in the inaugural S.League season for his junior team at the age of 14 along with two 16 yr old Indra & Ahmad Latiff.

I think many of u hope to see u back on the pitch soon, a changed man. Don't let us down. I hope these recollection of images can spur you on to focus on doing what u do best, playing good football, entertaining fans while staying out of trouble.

Your fan
(to readers of this article, if u can get the man to read this piece, pls do so as a favour to me. Thanks.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Room for improvement, Etoile FC

First, congrats to Etoile and their fans on clinching the league title.

I know many in the local football fratenity would have preferred a local team to win it, myself included. I can understand their allegiance since we are Singaporeans and this is our league. The only thing I am disappointed is that the $100,000 prize money is not kept within a local club for bonuses or improving its finances.

Etoile have brought a new brand of football to the local league and challenged the teams here to do better, which is great for the league on the whole. If this allows local clubs, league/FAS top managment to crack the whip and strive harder to improve, I am sure local fans would gladly give up the 2010 SLeague trophy to Etoile.

Now to the not so nice things.

Why do Singapore football followers generally dislike Etoile so much as it seems?

(This section is really for Etoile fans, players, Johan, Patrick and now Jorg. I am not throwing cold water at your celebrations. But to seek your cooperation in improving our league)

From the start, it is easy to say bcos Etoile have been winning games, beating teams that we support, thats why we dislike you. This is definitely not true, at least for me.

To me, there is 1 CLEAR REASON why Etoile have not gathered the respect of Singapore fans and followers like Albirex have done.

Its the behaviour of players and coach.

So much that Etoile's football in general is impressive, there have too many an incident of dissent happening on the pitch and off the pitch.

Yes, refereeing standards sometimes, or most time sucks. But all teams suffer from it, not just you. I am not sure if its the language issues, but I doubt so when I watch Etoile games.

Recall the 1-1 with Tampines in March or April at Tampines Stadium. Etoile spent much time chasing the game after going down to sublime Qiu Li freekick. In the process of it, I saw players losing their heads, overly rough tackles and a ball boy getting f***** literally by Patrick. It was not still injury time that Patrick was sent to the stands and Michelini had equalised. Initially i put that down to a typical Frenchman's passion and emotions, especially when they were on the losing end. But having it too frequent is too convenient an excuse.

There you have it, u made your first enemies at Tampines.

What was to follow during the season were issues like arguing with referees, complaining, acts of dissent and diving.

When decisions go against Etoile, it was the same players who would be making noise. From rightback, you can bet Julien Delatraz will be the first at the scene, having a go at the officials. Leclerq, Lakehal, Vershave are the others.

Diving - there is only 1 culprit. So much so a new chant of "Frederic Mendy's falling down, falling down" came by.

Patrick needs to stop his incessant arguing on the sidelines. I do agree that the 'closing of one eye' by the officials sometimes encourage him to go on and on. There are proper ways to lodge complaints. But do we expect higher standards for a professional who hails from Europe?

Talks now are that there will be major reshuffle of the team, but whoever that comes it, Etoile need to do better in their behaviour, Patrick included, especially now that Etoile will be the defending champions in 2011. You got to show some standards. I challenge you to be in the top 4 in the 2011 Fair Play table.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Soccer Marathon 7 & 8 Nov

Started with the Asian Games soccer where the Cubs played Qatar in the opening group game.

Izwan, Safuwan in defence and Nazrul on the left wing impressed me aided by the more experience Shahril who led the line. The Asian handicap was around +1.25 but the Cubs did well to overcome it.

Was hoping to see the boy I tout as Singapore's version of Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere - Hafez Abu Sujad (above) in action. Too bad he didnt appear. I have watched him a few times and have been thoroughly impressed by this boy.
Overall a good team performance by the Cubs despite a difficult last 25 mins where the Cubs were under absolute intense pressure. We actually had the Chinese crowd behind us for much of the game. Cries of 'Xing jia po jia you!' (Come on Singapore!) could be heard during attacking set piece situations.

Current Chinese coach and ex-Tiong Bahru CSC striker Gao Hongbo was also in attendance.

Dutch Co Adriaanse, the Qatar coach, quoted in Lianhe Zaobao criticised the Cubs performance, he commented that we should have stayed in the hotel had we wanted to play tat way.

Wait a minute, didnt Bert Van Marwijk stifle Spain in the WC final too?

But hey, a result is a result, when you support your HOME COUNTRY, that is all it matters! Play is secondary to me when I support my nation. As a club supporter u can choose, but u don't go around choosing a home country to support right?

Come on Cubs, continue to play as a team and try progress as far as possible and gain the exposure to big stage games. This will definitely help in future.


Big guns in Europe generally faltered their handicaps except in Spain
- Bayern, MU, Chelsea, Arsenal, Ajax, Inter, Lazio
-Resolute Magpies performance hindered Gunners
-Ranieri completes a week of turnaround in fortunes as his twin strikers on-loan Borriello and Vucinic converts a pair of penalties
-Zenit falls 2 behind in 11mins, equalises by 15min, and go on to score 3 in the 2nd half to win 5-2.
- Twin terror Falcao and Hulk leads Porto to 5-0 thrashing of Benfica