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

No comments:

Post a Comment