There has been a flood of reports in the newspapers on the Brazil Olympic team in Singapore and their match against a Singapore Selection side at the National Stadium tonight (you can click here and here for some reports).
After all, this is the most exciting team to play in Singapore since Manchester United and Liverpool came a-visiting back in 2001.
And football fans will not only be getting a glimpse of future World Cup players in action, they will also be getting the rare chance to see established stars like Ronaldinho, Pato, Lucas Leiva, Diego and Anderson in the flesh.
However, there was also an interesting letter which reader Chong Wee Jin sent to TODAY last week week (see here) which brought up a very pertinent point.
Wee Jin wrote to TODAY to express his disappointment that it will be a Singapore Selection and not the Lions that will be taking on the Brazil Olympic team.
“…the team spirit and understanding that have been forged by coach Radjoko Avramovic over the years make them a strong unit than any other (S-League selection) squad,” he argued.
I must say that I’m in two minds about this argument.
On the one hand, I feel that Wee Jin is right – why shouldn’t it be the Lions taking on Brazil?
Since international friendlies are so hard to come by, why didn’t national coach Raddy Avramovic use this opportunity to give his Lions another competitive match to further gel his squad or to test out some new players or combinations?
Why the decision to go for an S-League Selection side now? After all, we did field a fully Singapore side against Manchester United and Liverpool back in 2001.
Was it a condition forced upon him by the match organisers or the FAS? If the latter, then was it to give the S-League some publicity by displaying some of its better foreign talents?
Or was it Avramovic’s own decision to pick Home United’s Japanese defender Kenji Arai, his Cameroonian teammate Valery Hiek and Geylang United’s Slovakian midfielder Miroslav Latiak?
Maybe he felt that they were needed to strengthen the areas weakened by injuries (Precious Emuerajaye, Noh Rahman and Shi Jiayi are injured), so that Singapore can be more of a match for the Brazilians?
I felt it was a pity that our newspapers didn’t pick up on this point when the Singapore squad was announced. For all you know, there could be a very simple reason for this. I just wish we didn’t have to second-guess what it was.
The good news though for Singapore fans is that the Singapore Selection is still a predominantly Lions side as 18 of the 21-strong squad were Lions who played in Singapore’s recent World Cup qualifying campaign.
And if fielding a Singapore Selection side was indeed a condition laid down by the organisers or the FAS, then, as a fan, I would have much preferred it that the three Brazilians playing in the S-League – Geylang United forwards Luiz Mechado and Rivaldo Costa and Home United midfielder Peres de Oliveira – had been selected instead.
It would have been a nice gesture and show of solidarity with the Brazil Olympic team for the three S-League Brazilians to be fielded against their own countrymen. Similarly, I think the trio would also have been really fired up for the occasion.
And I think it would have been particularly meaningful for the 34-year-old de Oliveira who has been one of the most exciting players to ply his trade in the S-League since he first came to Singapore as a Home United player in 2002.
In the past six years, de Oliveira – who played for Home from 2002 – 2005 and Tampines Rovers from 2005-2007 before rejoining Home this year – has won two S-League titles, four Singapore Cups and an Asean Football Federation Cup.
He was also named the S-League’s Player of The Year in 2003 and also snared the Top Scorer award that season with his 37 goals.
Selecting him for this game and allowing him to play the full 90 minutes would have made for a nice tribute to a player who has been a wonderful model of consistency and excellence in the S-League. By the way, here’s a piece of S-League trivia: de Oliveira is currently fifth in this season’s top-scorers list with his eight goals.
All I can deduce from Avramovic’s selection choices, without knowing why it is a Singapore Selection side and not a full Lions team, is that he has little time for sentimental or romantic gestures.
Instead, his choices leave me to conclude that he is really taking this game seriously – by plugging holes and strengthening areas in the Singapore side which he feels could be exploited by the Brazilians if left unattended.
Well, whatever the case, I hope the Singapore Selection side acquits itself well against the Brazilians. I hope there won’t be a thrashing (I have a feeling Brazil will win 3-0 though) and I also hope that there will be louder cheers for the Singapore team than for Brazil throughout the game.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan