Monthly Archives: December 2010

Lions crash out of Suzuki Cup, but frankly, it could be the best thing to happen to Singapore football

The Lions crashed out of the group stage of the AFF Suzuki Cup after losing 0-1 to Vietnam tonight, the first time they have done so since 2002.

Frankly, this outcome was probably the best thing to happen.

I don’t think I could have gone on watching the Lions in this tournament without feeling more and more unhappy and dissatisfied with the state of the national team.

Let’s not beat around the bush: Singapore football has returned to the dark ages. From two consecutive Cup wins to a semi-final exit in 2008, and now this, a group stage exit. If this is not the most apt symbol for going backwards, then I don’t know what is.

We’ve returned to the late 90s and early years of the new millennium when the likes of Nasri Nasir, Rafi Ali and Zulkarnaen Zainal ruled the roost but couldn’t take the Lions forward anymore.

But what really hurt this time was watching some of our national players in action. Noh Alam Shah, Ridhuan Muhammad, Baihakki Khaizan and Precious Emuejeraye ere the worst culprits.

While Precious has always been a poor defender, one cannot help wondering what has happened to the first three in recent times.

They’ve played so poorly this time that one just cannot help wondering whether they were intentionally doing so in order to save themselves from injury and return to their Indonesian Super League clubs fully fit.

Or have they become so big-headed as a result of their being treated like stars in the ISL that they’ve come to think of themselves as the Untouchables, players who will always be picked to play regardless of form?

When the Lions suffer in defence because of injury to Daniel Bennett, lack bite in midfield because of the absence of Shi Jiayi and John Wilkinson, and have to rely on Aleksandar Duric and Agu Cashmir to deliver the goals, the state of local football can only be truly classified as really bad.

Really, let’s be frank here: how well would we have really done in the last two years without these naturalised citizens taking to the field as our Lions?

In other words, these naturalised citizens have been the strips of  duct tape that have been holding up the torn and tattered shell that is the national team all this while.

Which brings me to my next point – it is also probably time for national coach Raddy Avramovic to go.

I think he deserves a medal for what he has done for Singapore football, but I think he has also come to the end of the road as the man tasked with taking Singapore football to the next level.

We will need a new man at the helm, someone who comes in with a clean slate, with no biases, no attachments to players that were groomed during his tenure, and who can call a spade a spade.

We need someone with the guts to cull the laggards. Most importantly, we need to give this new man time to cast a fresh eye on the talent of the land and give him our blessings to take risks with new emerging talents and groom his new generation of Lions.

Does he have to be a foreigner? Maybe not.

I see some promising local coaches in the national set-up who can do the job if they are allowed to do their job, and pick their own players without interference from their bosses.

Bottom line: it hurts to see the Lions going out. But this could also be a blessing in disguise.

Let’s just hope the Football Association of Singapore has the f***king guts to do what is necessary.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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The Philippines’ 2-0 win over Vietnam spells doom for Singapore’s progress in the Suzuki Cup

The reports:

Here are the reports for Singapore’s crucial last-minute win over Myanmar and the Philippines’ shock 2-0 victory over Vietnam.

Both are taken from the AFF Suzuki Cup 2010 official website.

My thoughts:

Looks like I got all my predictions in my previous post all wrong.

Unfortunately, while I am happy that Singapore won to keep their hopes in the AFF Suzuki Cup alive, I think the Lions will come to the end of the road in their third and final group match against hosts Vietnam.

Yes, the Philippines did shockingly beat Vietnam 2-0 to throw Group B wide open, but the result now means that Vietnam MUST beat Singapore on Wednesday to advance.

And I really don’t fancy our chances — not after looking at how Vietnam torn Myanmar apart 7-1, and how they played overall despite conceding two dubious-looking goals against the Philippines, and contrasting those performances to Singapore’s displays against the Philippines and Myanmar.

My Dinh Stadium will be packed to the  gills with 40,000 fanactical Vietnam fans on Wednesday – and I cannot fathom the Vietnam team letting their fans down a second time on home soil.

Singapore’s second-half performance against Myanmar offers a glimmer of hope but it means that Raddy Avramovic must really be bold and field the same side that took to the field after the break.

In other words, he  has to axe Noh Alam Shah and Ridhuan Muhammad, both of whom were really poor in the first half.

I don’t understand why Alam Shah is playing so badly. Yesterday, he seemed more interested in spoiling for a fight than playing. This is the fourth game in a row that he’s been poor.

(An aside: I think it is a sad statement about the state of the Lions that we had to be rescued from defeat by Myamnar by two naturalised players, one of whom is a 40-year-old, and the other who was on the bench, whereas two of our top players, who are supposedly stars in the Indonesian Super League, were just so disappointingly anonymous when it came to the crunch).

And let’s keep our fingers crossed that Daniel Bennett recovers from his knee injury in time for Wednesday’s game because the lumbering Precious Emuejeraye is only going to be left exposed time and again by the fleet-footed Vietnamese.

But at the end of the day, I still can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel for the Lions. Once again,  I hope to be proven wrong.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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Early exit for S’pore in AFF Suzuki Cup? I wouldn’t bet against it, to be honest.

The report:

Singapore held by Philippines in Suzuki Cup opener

(Channel News Asia, 2 Dec 2010)

By Patwant Singh

HANOI: Singapore started their ASEAN Football Federation (AFF Suzuki Cup) with a 1-1 draw against Philippines in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Three-time winners, Singapore, had plenty of possession and goal-scoring opportunities but lacked the finishing touch to put the match beyond Philippines.

Despite Singapore controlling majority of the possession, Philippines still had the occasional chance at the Singapore goal.

The Lions finally broke the deadlock in the second half with Aleksandar Duric making it 1-0 with a fine header from Noh Alam Shah’s cross.

The Lions missed several chances to extend their lead and were made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal.

Philippines’ Chris Greatwitch equalised in injury time to end the match 1-1 after some slack defending from the Lions.

Singapore next plays Myanmar in their second Group B match on Sunday.

********

My thoughts:

In case you are not aware, defending champions Vietnam hammered Myanmar 7-1 in the other group game.

And this is what I fear could subsequently happen:

The Lions, feeling disappointed by their 1-1 draw with the Philippines will suddenly feel encouraged and lifted by Vietnam’s thrashing of Myanmar.

A sense of confidence gradually grows as they start thinking: “Hang on, the result isn’t too bad. It’s not as if we lost. We lost two points but at least we still have a point. And if Myanmar was so poor against Vietnam, then surely we can hammer them as well to make up for this.”

But when the increasingly confident Lions face Myanmar, they still fire blanks and are eventually only able to scrape another frustrating draw while the Philippines are beaten by Vietnam.

Then the Lions get all nervous before their make-or-break game against Vietnam. They enter the packed cauldron with a sense of false bravado but are exposed and eventually well  beaten by Vietnam.

Meanwhile, the Philippines beat Myanmar to go through to the next round.

How is this possible?

Well, just remember this – the Philippines had already played three qualifying matches before the group stage. They beat Timor Leste 5-0, drew 2-2 with Laos and 0-0 with Cambodia.

So, in other words, they already have had plenty of opportunity to gel as a team. And as such, I do expect them to get stronger, better and harder to beat as they play more matches.

So who’s to say that they can’t beat Myanmar?  Stranger things have happened in football.

I am really, really hoping this nightmare scenario doesn’t come true.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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