Saturday, November 12, 2011

Comment: If we are to stand a chance against China..

Yes some players have been dropped before the first qualifier began.

But as 4 matches gone by, we have seen some players really being out of depth on the Asian level. They may be stars in the local S.League, but would it be wise in persisting with them?

We all note the incredible absence of Qiu Li & Khairul Amri. But have we forgotten about Noh Alam Shah?? NAS may have underperformed in the Suzuki Cup (when he was partnered with Duric). But during the WC qualifiers where we need a battering target-man against the bigger teams, NAS I believe would have been useful. His international goals against big teams includ include strikes against West Asia's Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Jordan (as far as I remember). This is a man who can compete against the giant Asian defenders. Duric, to be trueful, have struggled to
find form somewhat when pitted against them. Duric's strike-rate on a bigger stage would probably be just against Tajikistan?

How I wish NAS can be at JBS to bully the over-the hill Li Weifeng out of his game on Tuesday.. Lets hope Duric can raise his game in probably what will be his last home international game & kick the China skipper's ass off before his sunset with the Lions.

With Khairul Nizam still a distance away to inherit the No 9 shirt, I do think among all eligible Singaporean men, NAS is still our option to go. His finishing may not be 20/20, but his other attributes make him a good leader up the field.

Anyway, if I am in the Lions' hotseat on Tuesday, I will pump forward with this line-up. The onus is for the 2 front men to deliver, while the 2 wide men try their best to support..

Lionel Lewis

Ismail Yunos (RB)
Jumaat Jantan (LB)
Sevki Sha'bban (LCB)
Daniel Bennett (RCB)

Hafiz Rahim (RM)
Isa Halim
Mustafic Fahrudin
Firdaus Idros (LM)

Shahril Ishak

Aleksander Duric

Supersub: Shi Jiayi

"I am neither an expert nor a die-hard fan, but I am Singaporean"

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Full Time report : Hougang United vs Tanjong Pagar (6 Oct)

Seven goal thriller ends Hougang favour

The fire in the cauldron of the Hougang Stadium was almost extinguished, not by the rain, by a gutsy Tanjong Pagar side on Thursday night as the Jaguars were minutes away from snatching a credible point after coming from three goals behind only to be denied by an injury-time Jordan Webb winner.

The final score of 4-3 in favour of Hougang was not on the script for much of the game. A header from veteran winger Noor Ali off a corner had given the Cheetahs a 7th minute lead which Carlos Delgado doubled on 24th after great set-up work from Webb, who went on a mazy run down the left wing.

After racing to a two-goal lead, the home side then slowed the tempo a little which allowed the Jaguars to start fashioning a few moves through Frenchman Cyril Bagnost and rising starlet Hafiz Nor.

However, Brazilian Diego Oliveira should have added to Hougang’s tally before the break but for Jaguars’ keeper Ng Jia Fa and journeyman Azlan Alipah.

Midfield general Azhar Sairudin also had an outrageous lob attempt from half-way field which just landed on the top of the Jaguars’ net.

Tanjong Pagar came out of the second period looking for a way back in the game with the introduction of Patrick Paran to partner Takaya Kawanabe upfront. Both were to have something to cheer about as the game went on.

On 64 minutes, another assist from Webb allowed another half-time substitute Sobrie Mazlan to find the bottom corner for 3-0 and the Jaguars looked dead and buried.

Two minutes later, Bagnost pulled his team straight back into the contest. The former Etoile man showed great enterprise and determination to get into position before fortune benefited him as his left footer, which appeared to have been intended as a cross, sneaked in via Fadhil Salim’s near post.

The impressive Hafiz then almost got his third goal in three games but he hesitated in a one vs one situation which allowed Fadhil to smother the danger.

A counter-attack on 76 minutes saw Kawanabe calmly slotted it in for 3-2 after a brilliant through ball from Jaguars’ substitute Shamil Sharif was controlled immaculately by the Japanese.

Hafiz, who had been threatening all night, finally stamped his mark on 79 minutes as he showed a combination of skill and determination to set up Paran for a simple finish to tie the game up at three apiece.

The away side could have easily sank the hearts of the Hougang diehards on 85 minutes Bagnost showed great feet and balance to trick his way down the left flank and squared the ball to Kawanabe. However the diminutive forward’s volley was met by the wonderful reflexes of Fadhil.

This laid the platform for the home win in stoppage time as Webb met Fazli Jaffar’s freekick and flicked the ball home to ensure late drama at Hougang.

Cheetahs’ coach Aide Iskandar was a relieved man at the end.

“I knew they were on a high and could spring a surprise. They have improved a lot since the start of the season and credit to them and Terry, who has done a good job”, he said.

While he lamented the lapse of concentration and defensive errors that almost cost his side, the former national skipper showed pragmatism in the end, “I am glad that my boys kept pushing. At his stage of the season, I guess the most important thing is three points”.

On the other end, with regards to the comeback which nearly materialized, Jaguars’ team manager Steve Nathan noted the emphasis on being focused and the increased confidence of the players following Aide's substitutions at half-time of Noor Ali (tactical) and Delgado (illness).

He remarked, “ I thought the team’s performance was excellent, considering it was the first time that we have played in the kind of weather”.

“You can see we took awhile to adapt. But I am pleased with the fight back, the spirit displayed and I thought we deserved to win”, he added.

Hougang next travel up to Jurong West to face off with Gombak on 12 Oct while the Jaguars renew ties with their old adversaries Geylang a day later at Bedok.

~extracted from hugo boss

Monday, September 5, 2011

s.League 4/9: Hougang 2-1 Etoile - Azhar marks comeback with winner

A moment of improvisation from Azhar Sairudin earned Hougang United a morale boosting 2-1 victory over defending champions Etoile FC as the league schedule resumed on Sunday evening.

The 25 year-old had missed his club’s last couple of matches due to suspension but showed again on his return how much his market value has risen this season.

In the 67th minute, not long after Etoile has cancelled out Vitor Borges’ first half opener, Azhar pounced on a loose clearance off a freekick, evaded a challenge, before firing in a half-volley with the outside of his right boot to give the Cheetahs’ the initiative for a second time on the night. It was a lead which they never relinquished.

The game was even from the start as Azhar and his partner Carlos Delgado sought to tussle against the ever-improving Theo Raymond in the centre of the park. On the wings, Cheetah Jordan Webb and the Etoile’s Sirina Camara were also looking in menacing mood.

Hougang took the lead in the 23th minute as Delgado’s smart distribution left Webb one-on-one with an Etoile defender. The fleet-footed Canadian proceeded to storm his way down the by-line and setup Borges for an easy finish.

The French side tried to hit back with a couple of in-swinging corners that caused the home team a few scares. However it was only in the 40th minute through Raymond’s freekick that Fadhil Salim was really tested. The Hougang custodian’s steady hands proved vital in neutralizing the threats in this instant and many others during the match.

Early in the second period, Etoile upped their tempo and coach Guglielmo Arena followed up by unleashing his wild cards in the form of Aly Doumbouya and Hicham Bouchemlal at the 59th minute mark.

Five minutes later, the game was levelled as defender Selim Kaabi nodded home from close range after good work from Jonathan Toto off a Raymond corner.

Next came the moment of improvisation from Azhar, which went in off Etoile’s keeper Antonin Trilles’ left post. This sparked jubilant scenes as the players celebrated the delightful goal right in front of their die-hard faithful.

Doumbouya, Bouchemlal and Raymond all had decent chances at goal but none managed to seriously test Fadhil after that.

Thus, it was left to Trilles to produce the save of the night as the French keeper tipped over from Brazilian substitute Diego Oliveira’s flying header in the 89th minute.

At the other end, Cheetahs’ captain Shariff Samat and his defence worked effectively to repel the French attempts late in the game to hang on for the three points.

Speaking to after the game, Cheetahs’ coach Aide Iskandar was evidently a happy man.

“This is a result of good team discipline and everyone taking responsibility, it was never an easy game against a well-drilled team, especially after three weeks’ break”.

“But it is good to see us start winning against the top teams again, which is good for team morale leading to the semi-finals of the Singapore Cup”, he explained.

The former national skipper also had kind words for his match winner, “No doubt Azhar has potential, his technical abilities allow him to make those good passes”.

With his side’s recent good form having been halted by this defeat, Etoile coach Arena was visibly unsatisfied.

“Our individual mistakes cost us. Hougang did not have that many good chances to score, except the header at the end”, he commented through his translator.

He then vented his frustration at the absence of proper facilities and a perceived unfairness in the way the league fixtures were rescheduled.

“We did not have goalposts at Queenstown for training till three days ago”.

He added, “This weekend is a FIFA date for internationals, but Etoile had to play, minus our two players”, referring to the absence of Franklin Anzite and Serge Souchon on national duties.

“It is not correct”, as he lamented the fact that other title challengers were not scheduled for action.

Next up for Etoile will be a tough battle against the Albirex side on Wednesday night and Arena will certainly hope his team can rediscover their winning mentality then.

~credits: Pohui from and

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Causeway Aftermath ST 29/7: : Never more proud - Poor refereeing and tough fouls did not faze Lions, says Avramovic

'That was the most important goal of my career. It was so sweet to score in front of the Malaysian fans.'

SHI JIAYI, Singapore's goal-scorer

Singapore players tossing coach Raddy Avramovic into the air after the drawn match, which sent the Lions through to the third round 6-4 on aggregate. -- PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
View more photos

Malaysia 1
Singapore 1
(Singapore win 6-4 on aggregate)

KUALA LUMPUR: Two Malaysian defenders, 85,000 fans at the Bukit Jalil Stadium, and millions more watching on television, had their eyes glued on Singapore midfielder Shi Jiayi.

The 27-year-old glided past his markers and, with the weight of a country on him, slotted the ball past goalkeeper Khairul Fahmie, ending any hopes Malaysia had of qualifying for the next stage of the World Cup.

As the sell-out crowd fell into stunned silence, the tense Singapore bench erupted.

'That,' an exuberant Shi said, 'was the most important goal of my career. We were all really nervous because we had a lot of chances to score but their goalkeeper was amazing until then.

'It was so sweet to score in front of the Malaysian fans.'

Shi's 73th-minute strike made sure that Singapore went through to the third round 6-4 on aggregate, and that any complaints about Malaysia's controversial opening goal yesterday were moot.

After a scuffle outside the penalty box in the 58th minute, Japanese referee Takayama Hiroyoshi raised his hands as if to signal for a free kick to the Lions.

The Singapore players halted.

But Malaysia winger S. Kunanlan did not stop playing, threading a pass through to striker Safee Sali.

The Tigers captain made no mistake as he put the ball past Singapore goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud to spark wild celebrations in the stands.

Another goal without reply for Malaysia in the remaining 32 minutes would have knocked Singapore out.

Lions coach Raddy Avramovic was so livid, he had to be restrained by his staff from going onto the field.

'It was really poor refereeing because he put the whistle to his mouth. I don't know if he blew or not but all our players stopped,' the Serb later said, his composure restored but the anger still simmering.

Another sore point for Singapore was the way Izwan was seemingly targeted by the Malaysians for some rough treatment.

'They whacked my head, ribcage and even my back whenever I jumped for a cross,' said the 20-year-old. 'But I kept my cool and took it as motivation to fight harder each time to stop them.'

In only his third international game, he pulled off some crucial saves, including a point-blank block to deny Malaysia's tricky winger Kunanlan in the opening minutes.

As Izwan walked gingerly to the dressing room after the final whistle, he was mobbed by his teammates, reward after a performance that Avramovic described as 'simply oustanding'.

Malaysia coach K. Rajagobal had a different view.

He felt that the Lions goalkeeper, along with several of his teammates, went down too easily to waste time.

Singapore captain Shahril Ishak was even steadily pushed off the pitch by Malaysia's Ahmad Fakri when he was substituted in the 78th minute.

'They disrupted our tempo and rhythm because of the injury stoppages every few minutes in the second half,' Rajagobal complained.

'To me, it wasn't a fair result; we deserved to win this game.'

Try telling that to the Singapore players, who came back out onto the field after the home fans had cleared out to applaud the 300-strong Lions supporters left in the stands.

Or to Avramovic, who was thrown into the air three times by his charges to kick off what was likely to be a long night of celebration.

'I've never been more proud of my players,' said the 61-year-old, as a rare smile made its way onto his face.

'They were real fighters for 180 minutes and did their country proud.

'Now, we all need a break.'


IMO, plenty of work to be done though. Yes they have redeemed themselves, they have got much of Singapore excited again. But can this last the course? Will Singaporeans desert the team again when they struggle against Asia's best?
Why Raddy not utilise his subs more? Is he lacking confidence in them? Are they not ready yet?
I thought we do have decent players on the bench as well.

But bottomline is, We need every Singaporeans' effort in moving Singapore football forward thats for sure.

Majulah Singapura!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Buildup to Causeway Derby: Shahril's free role (ST 21 Jul)

S'pore captain given licence to roam and harass Malaysia

'(It) has toughened me up because I get whacked and tackled many times during a game. I'm a smarter player now, knowing when to release the ball and how to deal with tight defences.'
SHAHRIL ISHAK on the benefits from his Indonesian stint

Midfielder Shahril Ishak (right), in action against Chinese Taipei on Monday, revelling in his new free role. -- ST PHOTO: NURIA LING

BARELY five months ago, Shahril Ishak feared that he had played his last game for Singapore.

His future with the Lions appeared to be in limbo after he joined the Medan Chiefs in the breakaway Indonesian Premier League (LPI), which was then not recognised by world football's governing body Fifa.

Fortunately, the 27-year-old playmaker received clearance from Fifa earlier this week, and is back in the national fold and raring to go for the crunch 2014 World Cup two-legged qualifier against Malaysia.

Said the former Home United player: 'I'm so relieved. I had given up all hope at one point.

'It was tough just training with the guys but not getting a chance to play out there with them.'

His return is a welcome one for Singapore as they prepare to face Asean champions Malaysia in the first leg at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday night.

For he not only wears the captain's armband, but is also the Lions' midfield linchpin, embracing a new free role which coach Raddy Avramovic has entrusted to him.

Shahril said: 'I used to play left wing in the past, which was a bit tough as I didn't get the ball much.

'Now, I have the freedom to go wherever I want and create trouble for the opposition.'

He did just that in a 3-2 friendly win over Chinese Taipei on Monday, linking up well with fellow midfielders Shahdan Sulaiman and Shi Jiayi to create openings for themselves and front-man Aleksandar Duric.

He has revelled in a similar position for Medan, supplying more than half of league top scorer Laakkad Abdelhadi's 13 goals in 18 games.

Armed with a bag of tricks and a keen eye for threading through balls, Shahril has also benefited from Singapore's new, short-passing game in a 4-2-3-1 set-up.

But this playing style, he says, could come undone if the Tigers adopt an offside trap by pushing up their backline.

'We have to find a way around that, by timing our runs well to spring the trap,' he added. 'It's important to keep things simple - pass to the player in space and then find an opening to receive the ball back.'

Shahril believes his overseas playing experience puts him in good stead to thrive as the main creative spark.

'Playing in Indonesia has toughened me up because I get whacked and tackled many times during a game,' said Shahril, who also played for Persib Bandung in the Indonesia Super League last year.

'I'm a smarter player now, knowing when to release the ball and how to deal with tight defences.'

Skills aside, he also has a wealth of experience. With 83 international appearances since his debut against the Maldives in 2003, he is the second most-capped player in the squad, behind only Daniel Bennett (97).

Along with Shahdan and Shi, Shahril feels Singapore's hopes of victory against their Causeway neighbours will rest on their shoulders.

He said: 'Our main job is to supply and support Duric up front. If we do that well, we've got a great chance of beating Malaysia.'

By Sanjay Nair (ST)

Buildup to Causeway Derby: Mustafic's eye firmly on Safiq - ST (21 Jul)

By Lee Min Kok (ST)

THE unenviable task of stifling Malaysia's midfield will likely fall to a Lion who has filled the defensive role with distinction over the last five years.

And midfield enforcer Mustafic Fahrudin - back in Singapore after a two-year spell in the Indonesia Super League (ISL) - has warned that it is Tigers' captain Safiq Rahim whom his teammates will have to watch closely during Saturday's clash with their Causeway rivals.

He said: 'Safiq's free kicks are superb. If not for him scoring twice in the first round, we would have been playing Chinese Taipei, not Malaysia, this Saturday.

'We will try not to concede any free kicks around the penalty area, because he is deadly in those situations.'

Safiq, 24, scored from a free kick in both legs of the 2014 World Cup qualifier against the Taiwanese, ensuring that the Tigers scraped through on away goals (aggregate 4-4).

He also enhanced his reputation as a man for the big occasion, netting a superb curling effort from 20m against English giants Liverpool last Saturday.

Set-piece prowess aside, the Selangor man, who is just 1.67m-tall, is expected to provide the ammunition for star striker Safee Sali.

But Safiq is only one weapon in the Malaysians' midfield arsenal, pointed out the Serbia-born Mustafic.

'Their wing-men are very fast, very skilful and we will need to find a way to stop them. I will try my best to protect the back four,' he added.

Call him the midfield destroyer, water carrier or hatchetman - each name less glamorous than the last - for the Lions, but the 'Claude Makelele' role (named after the hard-tackling Frenchman) is one of the most under-rated in modern football.

Against Chinese Taipei on Monday, coach Raddy Avramovic deployed his former compatriot in his favoured position, giving fellow midfielders Hariss Harun and Shahdan Sulaiman the licence to roam forward.

But Mustafic, 30, whose wife recently gave birth to their second child, insists that nothing gives him more satisfaction than snapping at opponents' heels and launching into bone-crunching tackles.

'It (the role) suits me well, I feel comfortable playing there and best of all, it allows my teammates the freedom to attack,' he said.

Buildup to Causeway Derby on 23 Jul: Malaysia's Safee longs for 1st goal against Lions - ST (21Jul)

'Bennett is a very intelligent player and he reads the game well.'
SAFEE SALI, Malaysia striker, on being a marked man of the Singapore defender

HE HAS scored 13 goals in 29 games for Malaysia since his debut in 2006, but top striker Safee Sali has so far failed to find the net against bitter rivals Singapore in three friendly meetings.

And the 27-year-old, whose reputation is fast-growing within the region, is planning to erase this blot on his CV come Saturday, when the Tigers meet the Lions in the second round of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers - his first competitive outing against the Republic.

'Yes, I've scored against Singapore at the Under-23 level (in the Merdeka Cup in 2007), but never in a full international or a friendly,' Safee told The Straits Times in a phone interview yesterday.

'If I score on Saturday, good. It will be even better if we win.'

The stocky 1.70m forward will first need to overcome veteran centre-back Daniel Bennett, 33, who has vowed to give Safee a tough time.

But having netted a brace in Saturday's 3-6 friendly loss to English club Liverpool on his comeback from injury, the Pelita Jaya hitman is confident that he can get the better of the Singapore defence.

Said Safee: 'Bennett is a very intelligent player and he reads the game well. I'm getting close to my full fitness and that will be important.'

Safee, along with skipper and midfield general Safiq Rahim, can expect to be marked men when they face their long-time adversaries in front of a sell-out 6,000 crowd at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

But Safiq, a key threat for Malaysia with his deadly free kicks, is banking on his teammates to rise to the occasion.

Said the 24-year-old: 'Everybody has their own weaknesses and strengths, I'm sure the rest of the team will have something extra to give on Saturday.'

Tigers coach K. Rajagobal's young charges are due to arrive this morning and will have two days to get used to the artificial pitch at Jalan Besar.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

El Fenomeno's Final Preview

Long since I did a proper blog piece and today seems the correct time to do one.

Though a Barca fan, I have not been following them as closely this season due to the cancellation of StarHub. Even in the UCL, I have been catching more highlights shows than live games. The feeling is such that everyone seems like an expert or fan of Barca now (prob since 2009 and the Spain effect) that this I feel no longer as exclusive. With so many new supporters, I have been taking a back seat. However, my knowledge is still very DARE.

Anyway as per in 2009, there are defensive problems in the Blaugranas tonite. Abidal, who missed the game through his red card at Stamford Bridge, may miss out again due to fitness problems. Dani Alves, however is eligible after missing 09 due to suspension as well.

Hopefully, Abidal is rendered fit so as to allow Puyol to be deployed in the middle. This is not to say I dont trust Mascherano. Anytime anyday, I would love YAYA TOURE to be back. He played a starring role in defence towards the end of the 2009 season. Strength, pace, ability, he is superb. Similarly, I rate him better and more crucial than Busquets, whom I often criticised. Sergi has a tendency of giving away balls in danger areas and hopefully he has improved on it.

Still Yaya would be my choice in DC or DMC.

Indeed, the missing African connection could be the undoing of Barca. Samuel Etoo was crucial in 06 and 09 while Yaya's physical strength could be missed. But the absence of CR7 also reduces the aerial power on MU's side. David Villa has also showed his class.

Revenge? No doubt with Jose having failed to stop Barca, the onus now is on SAF. It will definitely be a much tougher game than in 09 with revenge on their mind. But hopefully this revenge mentality would prove a little too much and work in my team's favour.

I remain hopeful. Wembley will crown the fourth title to either team. Hopefully its mine. Visca Barca, Visca Catalunya.

Friday, May 20, 2011

First upset of Sleague 2011 - 19 May: Resolute Cheetahs stuns Stags with first loss of the season

The buzz at Hougang Stadium continued on Thursday evening despite the end of the General Election as the Cheetahs of Hougang United put on what coach Aide Iskandar termed “probably their best collective performance of the season” by coming up 2-0 triumph against high-flying Tampines Rovers.

It was the first league defeat the Stags had suffered this season, meaning they are now just a point clear of challengers Home United.

Rarely have Tampines been made to look so ordinary this season as they hardly tested Fadhil Salim in the home side’s goal throughout the game. Even league top-scorer Aleksander Duric did not get a proper sniff at goal for the entire match, another sign of the work the Cheetahs put in on the night.

Hougang sounded their warning early in the fifth minute when Canadian Jordan Webb chested a long ball before squaring to midfielder Azhar Sairudin whose left foot effort flew just over.

Webb then had an attempt palmed clear by Tampines’ keeper Hassan Sunny two minutes later after outwitting defender Park Yo Seb on the right flank.

Tampines picked up their game soon after but had little to show for in the first period other than a freekick attempt on target from playmaker Shahdan Sulaiman just before the break.

By then, the home side had already taken the lead.

In the 34th minute, off a quick freekick from Carlos Delgado, rising star Basit Hamid muscled his way to Hassan’s goal but was denied by a smart save from the national custodian.

From the resulting corner, defender Syaqir Sulaiman glanced a header towards goal which caused confusion at the Tampines’ goal. Despite the defence and Hassan’s best efforts, the ball somehow crept into goal, sending the Hougang fans delirious.

The Stags tried to find a way to level the game after that but were lucky not to go two down within ten minutes of the second period themselves.

In the 53th minute, an alert Basit intercepted a back-pass but was slid down in the box by Hassan, who did not seem to mange contact with the ball.

To the amazement of the crowd who had expected a penalty and possibly a red card, referee Sukhbir Singh and his assistant saw nothing wrong with the incident and only awarded a goalkick in Tampines’ favour.

However, Hassan’s luck ran out ten minutes later as an early shower for him did finally occur.

Hougang’s Sobrie Mazlan bamboozled two Tampines defenders and found his way into the box, where his initial shot was parried by Hassan.

The rebound fell to substitute Noor Ali who sidestepped Hassan but was brought down by the Stags No. 1 for an apparently dangerous tackle.

Hassan was sent straight off and Hougang was awarded a spotkick which Delgado coolly slotted home past substitute keeper Hafez Mawasi for 2-0.

Stags’ coach Steven Tan responded by pushing Park into an advanced role along Duric as he looked for a way back for his team.

The tactical switch proved somewhat useful as his team began to cause some minor scares to their opponents in the closing stages but to no avail as the Hougang backline stood tall, leaving Fadhil’s gloves pretty clean at the end of fulltime.

Speaking to after the game, Aide commended his boys’ performance, while admitting the Stags did look lethargic tonight.

“It was obvious to see we were the hungrier side. We showed determination and perseverance throughout the game and I am proud of my boys”, as he beamed in delight.

Quizzed about the impact their boisterous fans made, the former national skipper expressed his gratefulness.

“The fans have been superb. They raise out energy levels everytime.”

“It clearly showed today as the boys was motivated, whenever their names were sung or the team was being chanted. So we have to thank them”, he added.

Tampines coach Tan was frank in his post match interview, crediting the hungry Cheetahs for a job well done.

“They played very well today. They didn’t give us a chance to play, closed us down and broke up our rhythm.”

Reflecting on his team’s performance, the former national forward added, “The boys gave their all, their commitment was there, so I can’t ask for much more”, while admitting fatigue could have finally caught up his team.

Tan’s team would now switch focus back on the continent stage as they prepare to leave for Iraq on Saturday to faceoff with Arbil for the second round of the AFC Cup three days later.

Hougang, on the other hand, take on Etoile on Monday back at their own Hougang caludron.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

GE2011 - Don't discount Mr Chiam for his appearance

At first glance of the Straits Times below, the writer might seem to be publicising his "poor" health condition and appearance. But read in depth to find out that his condition isnt a big deal and the mind of the man is still sharp even in TV interviews that I have seen

He may talk slower, but don't discount him, because of his frail appearance. Judge him, and what his team, some of whom have pretty decent credentials can offer.

Bishan need a change after 24 years perhaps under DPM Wong Kan Seng? Surely 5 years w/o upgrading isnt much a BIG DEAL there?

Prime News
Home > Prime News > Story
ST, Apr 19, 2011
I'm fit to run, says Chiam

Opposition veteran Chiam See Tong, 76, says doctors have given him the go-ahead to stand for elections. Since a stroke in 2008, his posture is stooped and his movement slower but, in an interview yesterday, he said he exercises regularly, goes for walkabouts at least weekly and is ready for campaign action.

Chiam: I can still contribute like any ordinary person
Veteran MP had stroke but keeping fit through exercise and medication
By Jeremy Au Yong

Mr Chiam (centre) on a walkabout last Saturday with fellow Singapore People's Party candidates (from left) Wilfred Leung, Benjamin Pwee, Jimmy Lee and Mohamad Hamim Aliyas. The veteran MP, who had a stroke in 2008, says he has what it takes to go one more round. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

VETERAN opposition leader Chiam See Tong has been given the green light by his doctors to do battle at the next general election.

But the 76-year-old, a stroke victim, accepts that he could face another medical condition in the coming years: Parkinson's syndrome.

He revealed yesterday that he is fending it off by exercising regularly and taking medication to delay its onset.

Once a week, a fitness trainer comes to his home in Bukit Timah to strengthen his muscles. He rides an exercise bike for half an hour each day and swims regularly.

Said his wife Lina Chiam, 62: 'Strokes lead to Parkinson's. But how do you go about it? Do you wait for it?

'At the moment, he doesn't have Parkinson's or his hands would be shaking. But you have to exercise to defer it.'

Then, in reference to his plodding pace, she added: 'His movement is slower but after a stroke, people also have this kind of movement.'

The couple spoke candidly to The Straits Times about his health, showing no signs of being dispirited.

Indeed, Mr Chiam is optimistic about his health, saying he has kept going because of his confidence in his own body.

'I have a feeling I will get well, this is something which is a passing phase. So I didn't bother to stop doing politics,' he said.

A person with Parkinson's syndrome displays the symptoms of someone with Parkinson's disease but does not have the nerve disorder.

The symptoms include having a stooped posture and slower movements.

Doctors The Straits Times spoke to said a stroke in the same area of the brain that is affected by Parkinson's disease can cause the syndrome.

During the near two-hour interview, the Chiams stressed that the long-serving MP who suffered a stroke in 2008 has what it takes to go one more round.

'He went to see doctors. Doctors did not advise him not to stand for election, they just leave it to him,' said Mrs Chiam.

Added Mr Chiam: 'I feel fit. I don't feel sickly, but you must remember I led a very active life when I was young.'

He was a school swimmer while at Anglo-Chinese School and an avid badminton player in university.

As Mr Chiam steps up his public appearances as election fewer heats up, his frail physique and hunched posture have come under the media spotlight, prompting questions on whether he is fit enough to mount a proper election bid.

Others have suggested that he should have stepped away from politics on a high, after winning in single-seat Potong Pasir at the 2006 polls.

Mr Chiam plans to lead a five-member team to contest the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC while his wife is taking over the reins in Potong Pasir.

In shrugging off the doubters' comments, Mr Chiam showed a mind that was still sharp and lucid.

He did not stop after his stroke in 2008 because 'I seriously think I can contribute like any ordinary person'.

He added: 'I don't feel like I'm in a disadvantaged position. In fact, I still contribute as an MP quite fully. I still attend my Meet-the-People Sessions (MPS). I still go to Parliament. I still speak in Parliament.'

In fact, two weeks after the stroke, he was on his feet again, seeing to the needs of his constituents at his MPS.

He acknowledged his health has affected his work, 'but I don't let it bother me'.

In recent weeks, Mr Chiam has been showing just how much fight he still has in him.

During a walkabout in Thomson a month ago, he walked up a flight of about 30 steps unassisted. Since then, he has gone on walkabouts at least once a week, often staying on his feet for up to three hours.

'I do politics because I like it,' he said. 'It comes naturally to me. I enjoy meeting people. And I like competition. That is also part of my nature.'

When conversation turned to the topic of his political plans and how far ahead he was planning, Mr Chiam simply smiled and offered a cryptic answer: 'I'm thinking of the fine time I could have, the last few years of my life.'



'I don't feel like I'm in a disadvantaged position. In fact, I still contribute as an MP quite fully. I still attend my Meet-the-People Sessions. I still go to Parliament. I still speak in Parliament.'

Mr Chiam

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fadhil the hero as Hougang nicks the win

Ratna Suffian’s 84th header may have won the game for Hougang United but it was the name of teammate Fadhil Salim that Cheetah fans were chanting at the end of the game as the home side defeated the visiting Albirex Niigata (Singapore) side on Monday night by a solitary goal.

Hougang coach Aide Iskandar had high praise for his custodian, “For me, he was top class today. He was everywhere!”

“I think he made about five saves which kept us in the game. That gave a lot of confidence to the defence.”

Indeed, the Hougang custodian was kept busy by the visitors right from the start.

He showed good reflexes to deny a goalbound shot by Tatsuro Inui in the 11th minute as a quick freekick allowed the Albirex dangerman in.

Six minutes later, he went one better by pulling off a double save. Inui’s curling freekick was punched clear and the follow up header by Keisuke Matsui was again thwarted by Fadhil.

Albirex fans were left disappointed yet again in the 27th minute as the Hougang custodian once again got down well to his right to stop Inui’s freekick attempt.

Four minutes before the break saw Fadhil pulled off what was probably his best save of the night.

Again, Inui was in the thick of action as he laid a quick pass into the danger area to striker Shotaro Ihata, whose left foot volley brought out a stupendous save from the Cheetahs’ keeper.

Though they were outplayed for most of the first period, Aide’s men continued to stay focused and displayed a high level of concentration in their defensive duties.

They never really tested Yoshito Matsushita’s goal in the first period other than a freekick attempt by Argentinian Carlos Delgado which required the keeper’s intervention.

Other than that, the only danger the Japanese side encountered was the occasional counter attacks which relied largely on the pace of Mamadou Diallo and Jordan Webb.

Albirex continued their pressure on the Hougang goal early in the second period.

A flowing move in the 49th minute involving Inui, Ihata then saw teammate Yosuke Saito’s deflected shot off a defender almost loop into goal, only to be denied by a back-pedalling Fadhil who got his fingertips to the ball.

Aided by Fadhil’s inspiring performance, the Hougang boys began to up their performances.

Diallo tried to lift the spirits of the home crowd with a chip from 35 metres out in the 57th minute but to no avail.

Just as the Cheetahs were beginning to stamp more authority on the game, defender Syaqir Sulaiman’s two moments of madness almost caused his team.

He had just gotten a caution in the 73th minute for a late tackle before another rash challenge, which looked like a slap on Inui, saw him got receive a straight red from the referee.

There was much debate as to where the second offence took place but referee W.Ravisanthiran only awarded a freekick on the edge of the box, much to the frustration of the Albirex bench.

A smart save off the resulting setpiece situation and another from substitute Bruno Castanheira’s in the 80th minute ensured Fadhil was the undoubted man-of-the-match.

Then, the moment the suffering Hougang fans had been waiting for came.

Delgado swung in a freekick into the danger zone and Ratna got the decisive touch which left Matsushita gasping in mid-air.

Hougang was rocking. Led by Ratna and captain Shariff Samat at the back, the Cheetahs gallantly guarded their lead for the rest of the game to clinched full points.

Speaking to the crew after the game, Aide was clearly delighted with his side’s overall performance.

He said, “I am very pleased with the defending, especially with only 10 men.”

“The boys played above themselves, noting the fact we had only 48 hours of rest from our last game.”

“If they can put up this kind of performance defensively as a team, I think we will be able to get a few more good results”, he added.

Despite the praise he had for Fadhil, the former national skipper did acknowledge that consistency has been a problem for his man and is something he has to help him with.

On the other end, the Albirex players were visibly gutted out by the result and perhaps all the more with the men in black.

White Swans’ coach Koichi Sugiyama said, “We prayed that we do not need to say anything against the referees this season.

“We wanted to be patient. But this is very regrettable”, he said in an unusually serious tone, while declining to elaborate further.

Despite the setback, credit must go to Coach Sugiyama as he got his troops back on the field to shake hands with their opponents, just as his charges were heading back to the dressing room in utter disappointment.

{Photo credits to Gale'11 facebook page}

Monday, April 11, 2011

Footy week-in-review: April 4-11

Time to update some thoughts after so long:

-Jordan Webb with another winner for Hougang United as Cheetahs steals a win
-I thought SAF would win and they did. Indra is king but supposed absence of Qiu Li was crucial.
-Tampines come back, yet again, against Etoile. Again it was 2-1.

-Nagatomo started his first game for Inter.
-Roma reignite their European chase at Udine despite being underpressure for much of 1H. 90th minute winner from Totti.
-Juve come from behind in another goals galore afternoon kickoff fixture as Luca Toni finds the winner (first for Juve?)
-my Milan maintains chase but Ibra is off again
-Los Che whacks the hell out of a european overdosed Villarreal. Yellow submarines were never in the game.
-Young Boys, Rosenborg played good assists
-Lyon wakes up from slumber, so does Lisandro Lopez with a late late late^100 goal! surprisingly they still could afford a missed PK from Ederson, himself coming back from a 9 mth absence with a fully torn hamstring sustained on 1st cap with Samba boys

The UCL earlier in the week were mostly a no-brainer but not having a stronger will to participate in the action was the only sore point. Well looks like El Classico will play out a record no. of times this season. My Barca is defintely a shoo-in for La Liga, but i won't be surprise if Jose has something to show when he gets a another shot against his rivals. He's good at knockouts. But the man usually takes 2 seasons to whip up his team into contention of European glory, but the strong base of Real initially might shorten that time frame needed? Im sure he would have seen the 5-0 demolition more than 100 times, with that being his biggest defeat to his biggest rivals. Fireworks expected.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Charity Match: S.League All-Stars vs TAKE ACTION with Albirex Niigata (Singapore) Selection

Jalan Besar Stadium was turned into a mini-Japan on Saturday evening as the local Japanese community turned out in force for the sell-out charity game between the S.League All-Stars and an Albirex Niigata Selection (ANS) side in aid for the recent disasters in north-eastern Japan.

The entertaining game was played in friendly spirit and ultimately ended 7-2 in favour of ANS. Amongst the goalscorers was FAS President - Mayor Zainudin Nordin and a 14-year old local boy by the name of Deen Martin. Albirex Singapore’s chairman Daisuke Korenaga also made a cameo appearance late in the game along a major Japanese donor who was unnamed.

Sources spoke to revealed that the young boy is actually an orphan under the Muslimin Trust Fund Association who had been kindly sponsored by media company Comm Pte Ltd.

In the buildup to the game, three former Japan internationals – Hidetoshi Nakata, Masaaki Sawanobori and Masakiyo Maezono had been announced to the part of the ANS team. Joining them in the team on match day was another ex-Blue Samurai, 43-year old Tsuyoshi Kitazawa, who promptly started the game along Sawanobori. The technique of both men was evident and together with the trickiness and pace of compatriots Bruno Castanheira and Tatsuro Inui, caused the All-Stars side plenty of problems in the first period.

The opening goal of the game came courtesy of Inui’s lob in the 10th minute, after All-Stars keeper Shahril Jantan had blocked Castanheira’s initial attempt. All 11 players of ANS then got together to dedicate the goal to those who had lost their lives in the recent events.

Richard Bok’s All-Stars team had Vitor Borges and Fazrul Nawaz upfront from kickoff. The latter seemed to be in determined mood, possibly trying to prove himself in front of national coach Raddy Avramovic who was in the stand, after the Serb’s recent comments regarding the progress of the national forward.

Fazrul did well in a number of occasions in the first half and it was his blocked shot which led to the corner that resulted in his team’s equalizer.
From the uncleared setpiece, Carlos Delgado’s centre was met by Obadin Aikhena’s glancing header to tie the game up on 20 minutes.

In the 28th minute, ANS was awarded a spot-kick after Afiq Yunos’ foul on Castanheira. However, Shahril got down smartly to parry Sawanobori’s attempt. The SAFFC custodian was then accidently hurt in the ensuing rebound and had to be replaced by Izwan Mahmud soon after as a precautionary measure.

Eight minutes later, the Albirex Singapore connection worked wonders for the Selection team as Shimpei Sakurada and Inui sliced the All-Stars’ defence open for Castanheira to score. This time round, the players ran towards the bench and celebrated together in a sign of solidarity.

The All-Stars then stepped uo their performance but hesistant defending on the stroke of halftime allowed Kazuki Kobayashi to make it 3-1.

The second period saw the introductions of Nakata and Maezono amongst others while Richard made ten changes to his side.

As the All-Stars were still finding their feet, ANS’ Shotaro Ihata notched the fourth for his side despite Izwan’s best efforts.

Then in the 62th minute, the volume at Jalan Besar upped a notch as Nakata got his name on the scoresheet from a half volley after good work by Ihata to make it 5-1.
The former golden boy of Asian football showed glimpses of his glory days, as even showed a couple of backflicks to keep the fans entertained during his 45 minutes on the field.

On the All-Stars’ front, Jordan Webb unleashed some skills of his own – something he had promised the author the day earlier, as a couple of stepovers on the counter attack drew a freekick which Frenchman Hicham Bouchemlal took but could only find the side-netting.

With his side looking for some consolation goals, captain Paul Cunningham was pushing on from his defensive position to initiate a few moves but without much success.

The sixth and seventh goal for ANS for the evening then came late from the young Dean Martin. His first came from the penalty spot which Izwan never really moved and the second came after Nakata himself and put in a cross from the right.
In his short cameo, Deen was also flagged offside twice by the ever serious linesman, which denied the boy a clean run towards goal, as all on the ANS bench stood up and “complained” in disbelief to the official.

Between Deen’s two goals, the All-Stars hit the woodwork twice in quick succession through Webb and Mayor Zainudin.

However, the Mayor was not to be denied as the ANS defence half cleared the ball nicely to the path of Mr Zainudin who finished off a left-foot grounder to add to the All-Stars’ account for the evening.

Post match thoughts
Quizzed about the chance to play in this charity match, All-Stars’ Cunningham said, “It is a good opportunity to show that we care. “I think every continent was represented in this game, which shows that football is a global sport and that is great.”

Teammate Hariss Harun added, “I am happy to be here for a good cause. Everybody did their part and it is an honour to be here.”

ANS and Tampines' Japanese international, Akihiro Nakamura, himself a seasoned campaigner in the league said, “We cannot do big things, but we can play then people come and donate which is good for Japan.” His compatriot beside him, Home’s Kenji Arai, nodded in agreement.

With regards to the eventual scoreline, Hariss commented, “There were no crunching tackles. We played to have fun, to let the goals flow. You could see that with the little boy scoring.“Most importantly, we all had good fun and a good laugh”.

A replica Japan flag, with the message, “We will never walk alone” was unleashed at the final whistle by chairman Korenaga.

Hopefully the recent efforts of the FAS, S.League, TAKE ACTION Foundation, Albirex Niigata (Singapore) and the local community would have communicated this message across.

S.League All-Stars: Shahril Jantan (Izwan Mahbud 33’); Jeremy Chiang (Emmeric Ong 46’), Obadin Aikhena (Paul Cunningham 46’), Afiq Yunos (Walid Lounis 46’), Shaiful Esah (Sirina Camara 46’); Hariss Harun (Armanizam Dolah 46’), Carlos Alberto Delgado (Maxime Belouet 46’), Fazli Jaffar (K Vikraman 46’), Mustaqim Manzur (Jordan Webb 46’); Vitor Borges De Souza ( Fazrul Nawaz 70’, Zainudin 85'), Fazrul Nawaz (Hicham Bouchemlal 46’)
Sub not used: Jonathan Toto

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Protectors starting to flex their muscles

Home United showed their title credentials on Tuesday night as their short trip to Hougang yielded a win by five goals without reply.

The result meant Home provincially went top of the league while for the Aide Iskandar-led Hougang United, it is back to the drawing board as the team has now shipped five goals in each of their last two games.

His team was not aided by the sending off to defender Ratna Suffian for two bookable offences in the first half.
Protectors coach Lee Lim Saeng made two changes to his starting lineup from the last game, introducing Qiu Li and the hardworking Firdaus Kasman into the team. Both were to go on to make their mark in the game.

Hougang was missing their foreign legion upfront as Diego Gama and Mamadou Diallo were both sidelined with injuries and Jordan Webb was only fit to make the bench.

In their absence, Aide fielded a makeshift strike force consisting two of his more impressive players so far this season in rising star Basit Hamid and former Protector Azhar Sairudin.

Basit, though still raw in the professional league scene, did well against Kenji Arai and Valery Hiek as he caused the seasoned duo into making a few defensive errors.

One of it happened in the 30th minute as Basit stole the ball from an innocuous situation and set up Azhar who could only slot it into the side-netting.

It was a let off for Home. However, by this time, the Protectors had already taken the lead.

In the 18th minute, from a good 30 metres out, Firdaus unleashed a stunning blaster to the top corner which left Hougang keeper Fadhil Salim grasping thin air.

Qiu, cheered on by this family in the stands, was slowly coming into the game. A mazy run from his own half to the danger area in the 38th minute almost reaped rewards till he lost his footing just as he attempted to shoot from outside the box.

A minute later, centreback Ratna was shown a second yellow card following a tangle with Home’s Sufian Anuar and subsequently sent off.

There was still drama in the first period as Hougang was awarded a spotkick on the stroke of halftime after winger Fazli Jaffar was tripped in the box.

However, Argentinian import Carlos Delgado’s decent effort was equaled to by Lionel Lewis as the national custodian parried it clear.

Despite the setback, Hougang came out of the dressing room looking to tie the game up but Carlos’ volley in the 53th minute was again denied by Lionel after good work by Noor Ali.

Not to be outdone, Fadhil also showed his class by superbly denying Qiu twice in the 55th and 64th minute.
Home had got their second for the night in the 68th minute after a mixed-up in the Hougang defence following a Qiu cross off a corner situation resulted in an own goal ultimately credited to Azhar.

Fadhil was again called into action in the 78th minute to deny Jumaat Jantan.

A minute later however , the Hougang goalkeeper undone his good work as a blunder off a corner allowed substitute Firdaus Idros to head home for 0-3.

Home was comfortably in control at this stage and starting to display some flowing moves as they sort to take advantage of the space granted to them by a Hougang side searching for some scant consolation.
Qiu then got his name on the scoresheet in the 86th minute, coolly slotting home after cutting in from the left wing and playing a neat one-two with substitute Asraf Rashid.

Then in injury time, Asraf capped a flowing team move by curling home a sweet left footer from the edge of the box to seal the victory for his team.

Hougang almost gave their fans something to shout right at the end but Webb’s volley just missed the post after excellent play from Fazli.

In his post match interview, Coach Lee credited his players for the morale-boosting victory.
“Our play is not yet perfect, but hopefully we can improve it in training and go on to be champions”, he commented.
Lee also expressed satisfaction by the minutes contributed by his bench.

“They(substitutes) are beginning to understand my instructions, and how I want them to play”.

On the other end, Hougang coach Aide Iwas visibly dejected.

“I’m not happy with the result, especially with the shape of our defence tonight.”
“It is unacceptable to be conceding goals off comer situations, which is something we have worked on a lot in trainings.”

He also lamented on the penalty miss just before halftime, “If we had made it one all, Home would have been forced to come out to attack us. In the end, it really was not our day”, he added while accepting responsibility for the defeat.

The former national captain would have a few days to sort things out before bringing his team to take on Etoile next Monday night.

~ orginal text from source~
~picture sourced from Gale's fb~

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sundram's Sizzler: How to do a Bicycle kick

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Following Sundram's instructions, Fairoz Hasan executes the perfect bicycle kick. TNP PICTURE: CHOO CHWEE HUA

WEEKEND warriors with a sudden urge for that overhead-kick wonder goal, don't try this at home, or on the unforgiving concrete surroundings of the street soccer court.

Or without the supervision of an expert exponent of the acrobatic art of the bicycle kick like V Sundramoorthy.

The Dazzler, who has been immortalised in the collective memories of Singaporean football fans thanks to his spectacular bicycle-kick goal against Brunei in 1993, took The New Paper through the paces of executing the perfect overhead kick.

In the interest of not injuring the now 45-year-old national footballing icon, Young Lion Fairoz Hasan was the man tasked to perform the demonstration at Jalan Besar Stadium on Monday, under the tutelage and watchful eye of Sundram himself.

As the Dazzler was keen to point out, the bicycle kick is usually executed when the simpler task of heading the ball is ruled out due to the height or trajectory of the ball.

He freely admitted that his glorious goal at the National Stadium in the 8-0 Division Two Semi-Pro League win against Brunei was a result of him 'overunning the ball'.

Explaining how to execute an overhead kick Sundram said: 'First, you have to adjust your body position so your back is facing goal.

'From there you have to judge the flight of the ball.

'For me, I usually lift my left leg up first before jumping and leaning backwards so that my back is flush with the ground while my right leg is straightened ready to connect with the ball.'


The 45-year-old explained that the reason behind the dual leg movement is that it helps with balance and generating power in the shot.

'You need to try get a clean connection with the instep because when you are in this position, you can't really direct the ball, you just need to hit it hard towards goal before the goalkeeper can react.'

The final step is the least glamorous, hitting the ground flat on your back, unaware if you've 'done a Sundram' or skied the ball towards the nearby lamp post.

In the Dazzler's case, it was an action that etched him into the consciousness of a nation, but in your case, please ensure it doesn't end up with you losing consciousness.

The tonic for weekend warriors. Something to try on a Sunday!
Brilliant 2 articles by TNP focusing on a EPL moment with a local touch. Great idea to start with!

Sundram: Mine was harder (TNP Feb 16)

But former Lions star admits that Rooney's bicycle kick was on a completely different level
By Dilenjit Singh
February 16, 2011

MORE than any of the skilful moves he was renowned for, it is the one enduring memory fans have of the player they dubbed The Dazzler.

That V Sundramoorthy bicycle-kick goal against Brunei in 1993 during a Division Two Semi-Pro League match at the National Stadium. (the match finished 8-0 to Sgp and Sundram's BICYCLE KICK was i believed the last goal of the game)
It's a memory that has been recently re-invoked by Wayne Rooney's winning strike in Saturday's Manchester Derby.

That definitely was the case for the patrons at the Dog and Bone Pub where he watched the match, who told him as much after the goal.

But which goal is better?

Sundram refused to be drawn into picking a winner in this epic overhead kick face-off, but did suggest to The New Paper that his goal was more difficult to execute.

Said the 45-year-old: 'They are both good goals, but it's not for me to say which is better.

'Rooney's was a great goal, scored at a completely different level.

'In front of a full crowd, in a tied Derby match, with all the pressure he's been under, he changed the game in a split second.


'Compared to mine they are different deliveries - his was executed from the side which, technique wise, is easier than when your back is facing goal (like against Brunei).

'When your back's to goal you can't really direct the ball, you just have to get it on target and hope it's powerful enough to beat the goalkeeper.'

Sundram's observations on the differences in technical difficulty of the two goals is further enforced by the fact that unlike the Manchester United man who seemed to connect with the ball with his shin, the Dazzler's hit the ball clean and true with his instep.

The Dazzler added that unlike Rooney who seemed, by his arms outstretched ta-dah celebration, to understand the magnitude of what he had just accomplished, the 45-year-old didn't know how good his goal was until he saw it on television later.

'When you do an overhead kick like mine you can't see the flight of the ball at all, I only knew it was a goal when I saw Malek (Awab) celebrating.

'You can't tell from the crowd's reaction because their shouts could mean it was just a good shot.

'So I celebrated it like a normal goal, it didn't occur to me how good it was until I saw it being replayed on TV numerous times afterwards.

'Rooney was sideways when he shot, and that's why he knew how good his goal was - you can see it in his celebration.'

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Uni grads shun rat race to chase dreams - ST(7 Feb 2011)

ONE has an economics degree and is working at the Ministry of Law. The other is an aerospace engineering graduate with no lack of options in the aircraft industry.

But, as far as NUS graduate Sudhershen Hariram and NTU alumnus Benedict Low are concerned, the future can wait.

Later this month, the pair will chase their S-League dream with Tanjong Pagar United, leaving behind potentially lucrative careers in their fields of study.

Their decision - derided at first by both family and friends - is a considered one. Football may not pay as much as their potential careers, but for them, passion is a priceless commodity.

'I've spent most of life doing what's expected of me, studying in a junior college, serving my national service and going to university,' said Low, who graduated from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) last year. 'It's about time I did something I want to do, and that is to play football professionally.'

Low, a tough-tackling centre-back who models himself after Japanese World Cup midfielder Yasuhito Endo, and Sudhershen, a flying winger with both pace and stamina, were playing for their respective university sides when they were spotted by Jaguars coach Terry Pathmanathan.

In Sudhershen's case, he will make time for football while undergoing his internship at the Ministry of Law. He has applied to study law at the National University of Singapore later this year, and will be stretched for time as he juggles work, study and sport.

But the 24-year-old is inspired by the example of his friend Fabian Tan, the Gombak United defender who also grappled with university studies while playing professional football.

'He said it's tough, but worthwhile,' said Sudershen. 'This is an opportunity for me to realise my dream and I get paid while doing it. I have to give it a shot.'

The S-League is a road less travelled for better-educated Singaporeans. Since the league's inception, only a handful of players - like Home United goalkeeper Lionel Lewis and Tan - can boast university credentials.

In committing his future to sports, Low - the eldest of three children - had to overcome resistance from his father. Said the 25-year-old: 'His initial reaction was that it wasn't the best move for me. But he said it's my life and I had to decide what to do with it.'

Neither player would reveal their salary package with Tanjong Pagar, but the two S-League newbies are keen to put football ahead of monetary rewards. Said Low: 'You won't be rich, but you won't go hungry, and I'm okay with that.'

Both Sudhershen and Low are untested qualities in the league, but they have fitness and desire on their side. According to Pathmanathan, the duo passed their mandatory Beep Test at the first try, with Low securing the best score in the squad.

'Both of them work very hard and they mingle very well with all the other boys,' said the former national captain.

'I'm very impressed with their work attitude. Technically they can improve over time, but the important thing is that they are willing to work for the team.'
-article taken off ST 7 Feb 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Round up notes - Jan 2011(Asians, Milan, SLeague)

1. What a signing, absolutely stunned that Inter swapped for Yuta Nagatomo (長友佑都),from Cesena in exchange of Davide Santon, who was given exposure by Senor Jose in his spell there but he has since faltered a bit.

Still a step up for Inter to swap for the stocky Japanese defender. excellent signing.

2. Similarly, Wolfsburg got SK's Koo Ja Cheol (具子哲) for something like under 2mil pounds? Based on his perfomances in the Asian Cup, McClaren could have gotten a steal.

3. Gracias Mr Galliani. brilliant work by the Milan VP to bring in 4 decent players at a very low combined fee. Van Bommel to ease the injury problems, 'Peter Pan' Cassano, versatile Urby Emanuelson and a promising Didac Villa. hopefully we can kick Spurs out of the UCL first b4 crashing out so that we can focus on the Scudetto! Forza Milan!

4. Our Sleague is kicking off soon. Scratching my head in recent days how Woodlands Wellington managed to bring in foreigners with decent/good CVs considering their supposely lower budget. Nonetheless may 2011 season turn out well.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Door reopened, time to treasure it Stags' No. 19

Jan 9, 2011 Sunday Times
Going straight
Aliff has vowed to stay away from alcohol, be early for training and get home by midnight
By Chan U-Gene

Aliff Shafaein, who was released from jail on Tuesday, is happy that his former club Tampines Rovers have agreed to take him back if he passes the Beep Test. -- ST PHOTO RAJ NADARAJAN

No more alcohol. A midnight curfew. Show up for training half an hour early. And no more negative headlines.

S-League player Aliff Shafaein has vowed to turn over a new leaf after spending two weeks in jail for drink-driving offences.

'It was the lowest point of my life,' a solemn-looking Aliff told The Sunday Times.

The 28-year-old midfielder, who was released from jail on Tuesday - a week early for good behaviour - made all the wrong headlines when he was sentenced for a series of traffic offences, which culminated in a crash on the morning of the Singapore Cup final, last month.

The former Tampines Rovers vice-captain was unlicensed and uninsured.
He kept his club in the dark, and played in the match which saw Tampines beaten 0-1 by Thai club Bangkok Glass.

He also came under intense criticism from the public after his lawyer Mohamed Muzammil Mohamed said that the footballer hoped his 'ardent fans' would help him settle his fine of $10,500 to avoid another 48 days in jail.
But Aliff denied making such a comment.

'I was upset when I read the news reports. The people who know me well, they know that I would not ask for such a thing. This is my problem and I have to deal with it,' he said before a training session with Tampines, where he has played for the last seven years.
'Now I just want to put an end to the whole thing, get back to my simple life and concentrate on my football.'
Prison was a shock to his system.

He had to share his cell with six others, whom he believed were armed robbers and rioters.
'I thought that I would be placed with people with similar offences. Thankfully, we got along okay. Sometimes I gave them my food when I couldn't finish it.'

He thought he could cope with the situation and avoid paying the fine. But it did not take him long to change his mind.
Aliff asked his father to withdraw his (the player's) savings. But relatives also had to pinch in with another $5,500.
He intends to return the loan through monthly instalments of $1,000.
'I want to keep just enough money for myself to pay for bus and food allowances. I also want to go home as often as I can for meals to cut back on my expenses.'
Aliff, who lives with his parents and younger sister at a flat in Yishun, used to earn between $3,000 and $4,000 a month.

Tampines' chairman Teo Hock Seng has given him a second chance by offering him a new contract if he is able to clear the mandatory Beep Test, a fitness test which all S-League players are required to pass.
Aliff is pencilled in for his first attempt tomorrow.

He said: 'I am very grateful to have been given another chance. I am disappointed with myself for bringing disrepute to my family, friends, club and management.
'My mother now calls me after every training session. I have to assure her not to worry and that I can take care of myself.'

Said Tampines' chief striker Aleksandar Duric: 'I'm sure he is now a changed man. It is good that the club take him back. Personally, I am happy because we had a good partnership last season.'

Added former team manager Syed Faruk, who stepped down before the start of the coming season to expand his business: 'Aliff is not a bad person. He has a few bad habits, but is a mild-mannered boy who respects his elders and gets along very well with all the players.'

'I knew I had to pay the fines on my own. This is my problem and I have to deal with it. The people who know me well, they still support me and they know that I would not ask for such a thing.'
Aliff Shafaein, refuting reports he asked his fans to pay his fines for him

Good at heart
'Aliff is not a bad person. He has a few bad habits, but is a mild-mannered boy who respects his elders.'
SYED FARUK, former Tampines team manager

Warm welcome

'I'm sure he is now a changed man. It is good that the club take him back. Personally, I am happy because we had a good partnership.'
ALEKSANDER DURIC, Tampines striker

---article off Sunday Times 9 Jan 2011-----


A piece of pleasant news finally about local football after a calamitous week.

So did he or didnt he? Was something lost in translation? Anyway, I suppose its time to move on and hope the man can relight his career and win fans back with his football..

Previous blog entry:

As stated, whoever can get Aliff's attention on my previous entry, please do so. I will be satisfied if my rummage through my old magazines to find his teenage years can help motivate "The naughty-Little Master" and inspire him to turn for the good.
~El Fenómeno, 9 Jan 2011~ signing off