Tag Archives: Aleksandar Duric

After notching first win, Terry Pathmanathan’s Jaguars will continue to improve

This short news snippet (right) appeared in The Straits Times on 18 May.

The news snippet on Tanjong Pahar's first win of the season (The Straits Times, 18 May 2011)

But don’t let its brevity fool you. I think we could see its significance unfolding over the next few months.

Today’s version of Tanjong Pagar United may be a far cry from the glory days of the once-proud club’s early years (ie 1996-2002) in the S-League.

Back then, with Robert Alberts and later Tohari Paijan at the helm, they boasted of local stars like Lim Tong Hai, Steven Tan and S. Subramani and exciting foreign players like Dragan Talajic, Aleksandar Duric, Sutee Suksomkit  and the Senegalese Twin Towers of Nicodeme Boucher and Boubacar Seck.

However, I think their narrow win over Woodlands Wellington on Wednesday, which snapped their 13-game winless streak, could mark  a turning point for the Jaguars.

Today’s Tanjong Pagar would be more akin to the Young Lions of 2009.

Significantly, Terry Pathmanathan, the coach of that Young Lions team, is the man in charge of the  Jaguars today.

I remember that Young Lions team well.

Although it was made up of many young players, and the average age of the team was 19, they surprised many people with their tenacity, discipline and great fitness.

Many of the top teams that season always found it hard to play against them and would often come away with narrow wins at best

What Pathmanathan did was to continuously work on his players’ fitness and technique. He made sure they played simple football as he worked on raising their fitness levels. As the season went on, the Young Lions grew in strength.

Their football wasn’t that attractive, at times it was even dismal,  but it was nevertheless enough to help them to go on occasional small, unbeaten runs.

In the end, the Young Lions finished the season in eighth spot with nine wins, seven draws and 14 defeats. Not a bad record for a bunch of youngsters.

But the best was yet to be.

The squad then went off to Laos for the SEA Games where they surprised every one by winning a bronze in the Under-23 football competition, equaling the bronze-medal effort by the more star-studded Young Lions of 2007.

Tanjong Pagar coach Terry Pathmanathan

For this season’s S-League, Pathmanathan and the club were dealt a terrible hand by the Football Association of Singapore, one that remains an indictment of the state of our professional league.

 Tanjong Pagar’s application to join the S-League was only approved in late December, leaving the former Singapore captain scrambling for players a month before the start of the new season.

He was practically scrapping the bottom of the barrel as most of the better players had already been snapped up by the other clubs.

Apart from a number of former national U-17 trainees, he had to conduct open trials to fill up the remaining spots in his squad. He eventually managed to do so – with amateurs and even tertiary students.

Although he did also manage to sign Koreans Kim Jong Oh, Kim Syeong Kyu and Japanese Takaya Kawanabe to add experience and more steel to the spine of the team, the fact that they are all relatively young (all are under the age of 24) means that there will always be a limit to the sort of influence they can exert on proceedings during matches.

But I am sure Pathmanathan has been going about developing this rag-tag team in the same way as he did with the Young Lions.

I am sure he will be doing the same things as in 2009 ie focusing on bringing up their fitness levels and working on their technique and making sure they play simple football.

It’s just that unlike the Young Lions of 2009, he has had to do it with players of a much lower level of competency in football this time.

Still, I am confident that Tanjong Pagar’s win over Woodlands will not turn out to be their only triumph of the season.

In fact, I will stick out my neck to say that, now buoyed by the confidence-boosting win, the Jaguars will continue to improve from here on, manage a couple more wins and draws for the rest of the season and end up either ninth or eighth.

Mind you, it is very possible because right now, they are only three points behind the Young Lions and five behind a very poor Geylang United.

If they can do so, it will really be a feather in Pathmanathan’s cap, and can only add to the former Singapore skipper’s growing stature as a highly talented and capable coach.

Pathmanathan has already shown before that he is blessed with the ability to make lemonade from lemons. I am sure he can do it again this season.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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FAS president Zainudin’s bombshell, as reported by Berita Harian

The report:

This report appeared today in the Asiaone website. It is a translation of the Berita Harian report on Jan 6 in which Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin dropped the bombshell that he is disbanding the national team. You can access the story here

I feel it is important to read this story first before  the other follow-up reports that appeared in today’s newspapers (ie The Straits Times, The New Paper and Today) because it gives the full flavour of why the FAS made such a decision (which has since divided public opinion).

Do yourselves a favour — give it a read first. And then you decide whether it is a wise or foolish decision by the FAS in the first place.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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All players from the Lions will be dropped

(Asiaone News, 7 Jan 2011)

By Chairul Fahmy Hussaini and Hisham Hasim

All football players in the national team will be dropped in regards to their bad performance in 2010.

President of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), Mr Zainudin Nordin, said that the current standard of Singapore’s football is at a disappointing level.

In order to save the situation, changes will be made with focus given in developing young talents in group age of 14-17 years-old and expanding the talent of the current lineup.

The harsh reality and brave decision was revealed by Mr Zainudin in an exclusive interview with Berita Harian on Wednesday.

According to him, a span of five years is needed the national team to be successfully renewed.

For the upcoming years, Singaporeans will have to be prepared to face the possibility of not winning trophies.

“That is my message to all. We will give focus to young players, develop talents as young as 14, 15, 16, 17 years old and talents’ of these players cannot be expand overnight but requires a span of four to five years before they reach the level that is required of them.

“This is what’s going to happen. I hope when we announce the changes that will be carried out, citizens will understand that, these are for the benefit of the long term and not the short term.

“Maybe half of the citizens will not be happy but we will do our best in the SEA Games and  the World Cup qualifiers although we are a team of new players.

“Although we will work hard, do not expect a miracle to happen overnight,” he said.

The SEA Games is scheduled to begin in November this year in Palembang, Indonesia while the selection of the eligibility of the World Cup is scheduled mid this year.

Mr Zainudin is firm that from all the players that will be dropped, only four players from the main 11 will be called back to be the “back-bone” of the national team that will be formed soon.

“When we proceed with the changes in the upcoming months, the national team coach, Radojko ‘Raddy’ Avramovic, will regard each player as a new player.

“All the current player will be dropped and Raddy will form a new team. When the new players are chosen, they will be based on merit,” he explained.

Last month, Raddy had given the media hints that from next month onwards, the national football team will have new faces.

This was followed by the disappointing performance during AFF Suzuki Cup in Hanoi, Vietnam recently.

Mr Zainudddin also mentioned that there were positive achievements last year, for example the success of the young football team in winning the bronze medal in the YOG.

“We will give full attention in developing our young talents,” he said.

Agreeing with the decisions, former national player, Malek Awab, 50, thinks that it was a bold move.

“It’s a good thing as it will give us a fresh start and new motivation in out national football team.” he added.

A similar response was voiced by a former national striker, Alexandre Duric, 41, said, “People are probably disappointed in the performance of the current team and FAS has to do something but it requires a long-term period to build a strong team.”

Translated by Muhammad Azman Bin Hamran from the original article first published in Berita Harian on Jan 6, 2011.

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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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