Tag Archives: Tampines Rovers

Aliff’s arrest and irresponsible behavour just adds to the worsening image of the local S-League footballer

The report:

This report appeared in today’s edition of The Straits Times:

S-League footballer held over car crash

(The Straits Times, 16 Nov 2010)

Tampines Rovers vice-captain suspected of drink driving and driving while suspended

By Lester Kok

S-LEAGUE footballer Aliff Shafaein was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of drink driving and driving while suspended, after he was involved in a car crash hours before he captained Tampines Rovers in the Singapore Cup final.

Two women needed hospital treatment after the accident on the morning of Tampines’ match against Bangkok Glass, which the former lost 0-1.

Tampines Rovers vice-captain Aliif Shafaein. Picture courtesy of The Straits Times

Aliff’s coach and team manager were left fuming after they learnt of the vice-captain’s arrest, which he failed to tell them about before the match on Sunday. The attacking midfielder was acting team captain during the match, but was substituted in the second half because of his poor performance.

Aliff, 28, was believed to have been driving a relative’s black Honda Jazz along Lentor Avenue towards Yishun when it collided with another car. The other driver, a 30-year-old woman, and her passenger, a woman in her early 20s, were taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. They were said to have been treated for minor injuries.

Aliff, believed to have been handcuffed when arrested, was unhurt. It is understood that he was able to play in the match because he was released on $10,000 bail.

Team manager Syed Faruk said he had been able to contact Aliff only via SMS after learning of the arrest yesterday, and was very disappointed with the player’s actions.

‘We run our club based on trust… we treat our players like adults, we trust them to do the right thing and I think he has done the wrong thing, by not telling us before the match. This got us really angry as it was such an important match.’

Mr Faruk added that Tampines coach Vorawan Chitavanich was very angry when he heard about the incident. ‘He (Aliff) wasn’t playing his usual game. I think the coach suspected something was amiss, but we didn’t know what happened, nobody told us anything,’ the team manager said.

He added that the other team members had not known of their vice-captain’s arrest, although they knew he was in a car accident that morning.

Aliff is known to have had more than 50 unpaid summonses over the past two years, believed to total up to $30,000. Mr Faruk had helped him settle the bill.

The manager said he did not know why Aliff’s licence was suspended. He added that he did not know who paid Aliff’s bail. ‘His family is not so (well to do), he is supporting his family.’

Police confirmed yesterday that ‘a man in his late 20s was arrested for drink driving and driving under suspension of driving licence’.

Aliff did not respond to calls from The Straits Times last night. His teammates said they were surprised to hear of his arrest, as he appeared normal during the match.

Striker Aleksandar Duric said: ‘He is very quiet, I’m surprised.’

Attacking midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman described Aliff as a ‘good person’ who does not talk very much.

The future of the Tampines vice-captain, who has been with the club since 2004, now seems uncertain as his contract will run out by the year end.

Mr Faruk said discussions will be held with the club’s committee, chairman and general manager tomorrow or on Thursday, before they decide on whether to renew Aliff’s contract.

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My thoughts:

The above incident is an example of sheer stupidity and irresponsibiity at its best. But worse of all, it deals another hammer blow at the image of the local professional footballer.

So now we know: not only is the average S-League footballer

a) incapable of earning a proper living when he is not playing football (as shown by the example of Mohd Noor Ali who ended up doing odd jobs and assisting at his father’s prata stall during his suspension from the S-League for betting on matches),

b) incredibly disloyal (as shown by some Lions in the past two years who abandoned their clubs midway through the season to join Indonesian clubs which were dangling higher salaries, even though their own clubs were in the chase for the S-League ttle)

c) incredibly stupid (as shown by Aliff Shafaein’s reckless behaviour on the eve and morning of his club’s Singapore Cup final.

I mean, is drinking the night before a Cup final the sort of behaviour a professional footballer should be indulging in?

My jaw also dropped at the revelation that Aliff had chalked up over 50 summonses and over $30,000 in fines prior to his arrest. And that he was driving despite having his licence suspended.

What is wrong with the bloody idiot? Does he not have a brain?

For that matter, what is wrong with all these footballers?

Is there any cause for wonder then that the general public has such a poor impression of our local footballers, and of football as a viable professional career?

Sadly, the people who are going to suffer the most in this instance will be the members of Aliff’s family.

From the report, it’s pretty clear that he is one of the main breadwinners of his family.

He is already 28 years old. So if he ends up in jail for a lengthy period of time, it probably means the end of his livelihood as a professional player.

For that matter, do you think that Tampines Rovers – who entrusted him with leadership positions in the team — or any other club would want to have him on their rosters now that they know the sort of irresponsible person he is?

It’s all very stupid, very tragic and very sad.

 Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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Congratulations to Etoile FC for winning the S-League in their debut season

My heartiest congratulations to Etoile FC, a club made up of French players, for winning the S-League title on their debut season and for doing it in style.

I have to admit that I had my apprehensions when I first heard, back in January, that a create-from-scratch club made up of French journeymen players would be the new foreign club competing in the S-League. You can read about my concerns here.  

But Etoile have proven them wrong and so let me eat a slice of humble pie and congratulate them on their array of achievements ie winning the S-League title, the League Cup, the Top Scorer’s Award via striker Frederic Mendy as well as reaching the semi-finals of the RHB Singapore Cup.

I did find intriguing Etoile chairman Johan Gouttefangeas’ remark that changes to his playing staff will be inevitable. It suggests that a number of his players will probably be leaving the club for greener pastures. I wonder how many of them will be lured by the likes of Home United, Tampines Rovers and SAFFC?

And yes, it will be interesting to see if Etoile can continue next season to live up to the high standards that they have set for themselves this year.

In contrast, Beijing Guoan, the other new foreign team to join the S-League this year, proved to be yet another major disappointment from China. Not only did they finish a dismal 10th, their biggest contribution to the S-League was being part of a mass brawl with the Young Lions, the worst on-pitch free-for-all ever witnessed in the history of the tournament.

I had expected more from the Chinese club since it was supposedly a feeder squad of the senior side which is apparently a powerhouse in the C-League. But now they’ve joined the growing heap of flop Chinese clubs that have consistently been an embarrassment to both themselves and the S-League.

Word has it that Beijing may pull out of the S-League next year. I say good riddance to bad rubbish.

In my humble opinion, it would be nice to see the Super Reds returning to the S-League. Made up of promsing young Korean players. they had their application to join the 2010 season rejected despite finishing second and fifth in 2008 and 2009.

One reason could be that they had decided to turn themselves into a local club for the 2010 season, calling themselves the Yishun Super Reds and having mostly local players on their roster and retaining only four Koreans.

I wonder if the Super Reds could consider a change of tack. For example, maybe they should consider having mostly Korean players and four locals (maybe a mix of experienced names and young promising talents) in their squad instead.  Something for the club to consider?

Well, let’s see what happens in the coming months. But I am seriously hoping we end this stupid fascination with  Chinese clubs.

Back to my original starting point for this post.

Congratulations once again to Etoile, and commiserations to Tampines Rovers for losing out on the crown by a point, and to Stags striker Aleksandar Duric, once again one of the top performers in the league,  for missing out on the Top Scorer’s award by one goal.

Here’s The Straits Times report on Etoile’s historic S-League title win last night and another report which singled out the club’s three top performers for the season. Here’s also a link to Ko Po Hui’s report on his website Bolasepako.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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Etoile makes S-League History

(The Straits Times, 11 Nov 2010)

By Fabius Chen

THE Stars were out to party at Jurong East Stadium last night, as Etoile FC were crowned the 2010 Great Eastern-YEO’S S-League champions with a 4-2 win over Albirex Niigata.

In doing so, the French side became the first foreign club to lift the trophy and completed a first season Double, having also won the League Cup earlier.

An almighty roar erupted from the stands where the Etoile supporters were gathered when referee Muhd Taqi blew the final whistle, while the players engaged in hugs, high-fives and songs.

Before them, the closest any non-local side had come to claiming Singapore football’s top prize was when the Super Reds finished runners-up in 2008.

And how fitting it was that Etoile’s journey to becoming the league’s first foreign champions ended against the Japanese side, after it had begun with a 1-0 win over fellow newcomers Beijing Guoan of China on Feb 12.

Coach Patrick Vallee paid tribute to his players: ‘They have worked hard all year, so this title is for them.’

They were made to work especially hard last night in a thrilling encounter, played in front of a raucous 1,750-strong crowd, twice coming back from a goal down to hold off the challenges of Tampines Rovers and Home United, who finished second and third respectively.

Needing to better the Stars’ result to snatch the crown, the Stags kept up their end of the bargain by demolishing Balestier Khalsa 4-1.

But it was all in vain, as late goals from Frederic Mendy and Matthias Verschave rendered their result moot.

Defender Kazuki Kobayashi scored twice in the first half for Albirex but Loic Leclercq’s 31st-minute penalty and Mendy’s first goal of the night in the 64th set the stage for the two decisive goals in the closing 13 minutes.

Home, meanwhile, ended their season with a whimper as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Singapore Armed Forces FC.

To round off the night for Etoile, striker Mendy also claimed the top scorer award, his brace sending him to 21 goals for the season, one ahead of Tampines’ Aleksandar Duric.

Stars captain Verschave said: ‘It’s much more difficult for the foreign team to win because most Singaporeans are against us.’

And their achievement did not go unnoticed, with S-League chief executive officer Winston Lee being one of the first people to congratulate the French side.

‘They have brightened the S-League with their brand of football and also prompted the local clubs to raise the tempo and intensity of their game,’ he noted. ‘Their victory will spur our local clubs to do better as they look to reclaim the title next season.’

Concurring with this was Richard Bok, coach of displaced champions SAFFC.

‘Having a foreign champion is a good wake-up call for all local clubs,’ he stressed.

But not just local clubs, apparently.

Albirex coach Koichi Sugiyama said: ‘We want to be like them (Etoile), and we will fight to do so next season.’

It will not be easy, though; even before his side were presented the S-League trophy, the Stars’ chairman Johan Gouttefangeas had already set his sights on 2011.

‘I feel like my stomach is only half-full because we didn’t ‘makan’ the Singapore Cup,’ he joked, in reference to what he said about wanting to ‘makan’ all three prizes in local football when Etoile first arrived in Singapore.

And he remains confident, even as he admitted that changes to his playing staff are inevitable.

‘It will be hard to retain all these players,’ he conceded. ‘We will have no choice but to bring in some new blood. But they will be as good as this year’s.’

And, as he prepared to leave the stadium, Gouttefangeas had a promise for the rest of the league.

‘Next year will be a good year as well,’ he said confidently.

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Etoile’s trio of  great performers

(The Straits Times, 10 Nov 2010)

By Lee Min Kok

Frederic Mendy, striker, 22

The French debutants have stamped their mark on the S-League this season, and none more than their target-man up front.

A 21-goal haul proves the Frenchman to be the real deal. He beats all-time league top scorer Duric to the Golden Boot by one goal. Might not be with Etoile next season, as several of the S-League’s top clubs are casting an envious eye at the lanky 1.90m forward.

Loic Leclercq, defender, 22

While the Stars have Mendy to thank for banging in the goals, they also boast the league’s best defensive record, having conceded a miserly 23 goals in 33 games.

For that, they have the uncompromising Lerclerq to thank for marshalling a disciplined Etoile backline all season.

Karim Boudjema, winger, 22

The French do love their flying wingers. Full of trickery and pace, he has been a revelation on the left flank.

Has shown a keen eye for goal as well, weighing in with six this season, including crucial efforts against Woodlands and Geylang.

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Local football fans blast FAS for selecting Etoile FC and Beijing Guo’an

The reports:

I’ve found two very well-argued opinion pieces about the Football Association of Singapore’s inclusion of the two new foreign clubs – Etoile FC and Beijing Guo’an – into this season’s S-League.

One, from The Online Citizen, protested vehemently against the exclusion of the Yishun Super Reds while the other, a letter in TODAY, lambasted the FAS for constantly changing the foreign teams in the league:

“While bringing in foreign talent may work for table tennis, having foreign-based teams play here for one or two seasons before they wave goodbye is not the way to go. How are we to breed local talent if half the league consists of itinerant foreigners?”

Reading the write-up from the TOC also got me thinking: Yes, it seems that in rejecting the Yishun Spuer Reds, the FAS may well have missed the opportunity to create a new version of Sembawang Rangers.

I have fond memories of Sembawang – although they were always in the bottom half of the league, they were memorable because they were unconventional.

They were the first club to go almost all Thai in their selection of four or five foreign players. And we all knew the Thai players from their exploits for Thailand in the Tiger Cup in the late 90s and early Noughties (now known as the Asean Football Championships).

Coached by Voran Chintavanich (now with Tampines Rovers), that Sembawang side featured the likes of defender Niweat Siriwong, midfielder Thawatchai Ongtrakul and the biggest catch of all, midfielder Tawan Sripan, who back then was arugably the second most popular player in Thailand after Kiatisuk Senamuang.

Their brand of attacking football drew the crowds – not just Thai nationals working in Singapore but also local football fans. And my most enduring memory of the crowds was how a group of fans would always gather around the team after a match, listening to Vorawan debriefinig his men before breaking out in cheers and giving all of them a standing ovation.

This is the sort of fanship money can never buy. And from the looks of it, there was a chance that the Yishun All Reds could have become a Korean version of Sembawang Rangers, becoming a magnet for Korean nationals working in Singapore, and once again, a club for the neighbourhood to identify with.

Sadly, they will not be getting their chance to build on that platform this year. Instead, it looks like the FAS has been blinded by promises of European flair (yucks, so snooty, as though Asian players are not capable of flair) and the potential to recruit young China players for future national teams (double yucks)

Here are the two write-ups. Like I said, very good. I devoured every word and re-read them a couple of times. I hope you will enjoy them too.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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Latest fiasco from Football Association of Singapore

(The Online Citizen, 19 Jan 2010)

By Lim Mingji

Two weeks from the start of the 15th season of the Great Eastern-Yeo’s S-League, the S-League announced the winner of the two teams that were competing for the final spot in the new S-league season.

To the surprise and amazement of all the S-league fans, the winner of the coveted final spot went to Beijing Guo’an, rather than the highly committed and motivated, successful in previous two seasons, and now going all local, Yishun Super Reds.

Super Reds FC (Korea), is the most successful foreign team ever to grace the S-league. Barring their first season when they finished bottom, they have been pretty successful for the last 2 seasons, finishing 2nd in 2008 and 5th in 2009 (ahead of 8th placed Albirex Niigata FC (S) by 12 points). Super Reds FC decided to go local at the end of the 2009 season with the intention to qualify for continental football to represent Singapore, and to develop local football talents. They re-branded themselves as the Yishun Super Reds.

S-league fans and supporters were ecstatic about Super Reds intention to turn local and had been looking forward for their participation in the new season. The local football scene had been turning stale with Sengkang Punggol FC and Balestier Khalsa FC perpetually rooted to the bottom of the table, and the Singapore Armed Forces FC (SAFFC) dominating with their 4th S-league title in a row.

Backed by their local Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC, Lee Bee Wah, Club Chairman Charlie Yoon had big ambitions to make a challenge for the S-league title within 3 seasons. Other than improving the club house, he also planned to groom young players, such as sending them for football exchange programmes in Korea, implement player-attachments to Korea-based teams as well as giving out scholarships to their local recruits to further their studies.

“In over two years as chairman, I’ve spent $2.7 million on the club, and in the end we’ve got nothing,” Mr Charlie Yoon exclaimed in an interview with Today on 27th November 2009 (see photo above). “Now I want to set up a local team, create jobs and develop local players, at least that will help Singapore football in some way.”

As a result, the selection of Beijing Guo’an over Yishun Super Reds has shocked local football supporters and astounded even the non-fans.

People like Halim Wahab, who posted the following comment on the Football Association of Singapore’s facebook page, spelled out the general mood among local fans:

“I am really disappointed with the FAS decision on the clubs for the S-League. Shouldn’t we be looking after our own local clubs first before choosing a foreigner? Yishun Super Reds take the bold step to become local after 2 season of wonderful football as a Korean team – for the reason in helping to develop more local players and play a bigger role in helping local football – now that is something that we should applause the team for and give them the opportunity to do so…

And there is no harm in taking another team is there? So lets give the 13th slot to the Yishun Super Reds… u will do local football a lot of good – after FAS is suppose to be looking after local football isn’t it?!!!”

The selection of a China team is going to spell controversy. In 2003, Sinchi FC (China) became the first foreign team to participate in the S-league. Poor performance and rough play marked their legacy as they bowed out in 2005 due to financial reasons. In 2007, Liaoning Guangyuan become the 2nd China team to participate in the league, but the club was embroiled in a match-fixing controversy and was not invited to participate again in 2008. Dalian Shide Siwu became the next China team, replacing Liaoning Guangyuan, but ultimately, was booted out of the league after finishing 3rd from the bottom.

This selection snafu looks poised to evoke greater repercussions in the future: foreign teams may no longer consider turning local as an option, seeing how the Super Reds had been snubbed despite being prepared for the new season and having already formed the team; potential new local football clubs and their investors will be discouraged by the authorities’ disinterest in supporting new local teams; local footballing talents will be further discouraged to see football as a viable career path; or perhaps worse, the development of a perception that S-league and FAS’s ultimate goal is simply to get foreign talents to be naturalised for the national team.

I can only hope that FAS and the S-league would open up an unprecedented 13th slot for Yishun Super Reds FC and prove the prevailing perception wrong.

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Foreign faux pas

(TODAY, VOICES, 21 Jan 2010)

EARLIER this week, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) unveiled the two teams that will complete the lineup for the 2010 Great Eastern-Yeo’s S-League: French side Etoile FC and Beijing Guo’an.

Foreign clubs in general have not performed well in Singapore. Sinchi FC, the first foreign club allowed into the S-League, withdrew after three years after they were punished for the indiscipline of their players on the pitch. Liaoning Guangyuan was engaged in a match-fixing scandal in 2007. Brunei DPMM were withdrawn from the league competition five games before the end of the last season. Sporting Afrique was involved in a salary dispute which drew international attention of the wrong sort.

Have you heard of any top-class leagues elsewhere in the world where they switch teams around every other season?

Having one or two foreign teams is okay, as they give us a platform to see if we are up to par, but having too many foreign teams in Singapore will not improve the standard of football here. On the contrary, many may instead choose to stop following the S-League. Will locals want to watch a match-up between Beijing Guo’an and Albirex? Or Albirex versus Etoile?

While bringing in foreign talent may work for table tennis, having foreign-based teams play here for one or two seasons before they wave goodbye is not the way to go. How are we to breed local talent if half the league consists of itinerant foreigners?

The foreign-based clubs mainly use their squads here as satellite bases to test youngsters or as a reserve team, and thus have more financial stability than most of the local teams, which struggle to make ends meet.

Local football will not thrive unless the FAS pumps in more resources and finance into breeding a whole new bunch of footballing talent. We need better infrastructure and more playing fields.

I’m honestly worried about the future of the local league. Already national players like Baihakki Khaizan and bad boy and fan favourite Noh Alam Shah have left to flaunt their skills in the Liga Indonesia.

It’s been too long a time since local greats like Fandi Ahmad and V Sundramoorthy lit up the footballing scene. Meanwhile, many of us fans are fed up with appalling performances and unrealistic targets – think Goal 2010 – set. The latest developments will not improve standards or increase crowds.

Aaron Wee Jun Jie

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