Thursday, April 22, 2010

Former Tampines Stags @ Malang

Alerted to this piece of informative article of others which i thought many like me might have missed if we arent TNP readers. It was published earlier in the week. Just to share:

Singapore fever hits Malang

Arema Indonesia's unlikely rise to the top of the Indonesia Super League table has captured the imagination of its fanatical supporters. But it also propelled Singaporeans Noh Alam Shah and Ridhuan Muhammad to rock star status, way beyond their wildest dreams
PASSION (top left): The Arema fans know their football - and they like what they see in their Singapore imports Noh Alam Shah and Muhd Ridhuan.

GET SHIRTY (top right): Players know they've made it when vendors start selling jerseys with your names on it. PICTURES: BH

AT FIRST, there was uncertainty.

Employed by an overseas club for the first time in their career, Singapore footballers Noh Alam Shah and Ridhuan Muhammad were hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst.

Soon, they realised that they need not have worried at all - the duo hit the ground running in the Indonesia Super League.

These days, the two Arema Indonesia players cannot walk around in Malang without being mobbed.

Keychains, T-shirts and caps bearing their names and faces are snapped up like hotcakes at souvenir shops.
Short visits to the shopping malls almost always turn into impromptu meet-the-fans sessions, where fans are quick to take the opportunity to have their photos taken with their idols.
So, they often disguise their themselves by wearing shades, caps, or by pulling their sweatshirt hood over their heads.

Celeb girlfriend
If you think that's getting a little absurd, wait till you hear Ridhuan's confession that he has been dating an Indonesian celebrity for the last four months.
Life doesn't get any better for the duo.

Said 29-year-old Noh Alam Shah: 'I just came back from the mall. I was standing at the centre, taking photos with the fans. After almost 15 minutes, I could see that my wife was beginning to look a little unhappy.
'In the end, I had to excuse myself. Otherwise, it would never end.
'I seldom step out of the house nowadays unless necessary. But it feels much better than being not recognised anywhere I go.
'If you think it's bad for me, wait till you speak to Ridhuan.
'When we board the team bus on match days, the school girls would rush towards Ridhuan and start screaming until some would actually start crying. '
Indeed, Ridhuan's celebrity status has skyrocketed since his arrival in Malang, which has a population of almost 1.2 million people.
Still only 25 and single, his has more than 7,500 supporters on his Facebook fanpage. He is used to returning home to see about 10 fans waiting for him at his doorstep.
He loves the attention, but laments about the loss of privacy. He sometimes wishes he could go shopping with his girlfriend without being stopped so often - he is dating a 21-year-old Indonesian TV station sports presenter.
Said Ridhuan, who declined to reveal the identity of his girlfriend of four months: 'It's difficult to go out on dates like that, you know.
'She's from Bali, but studying here in Malang. She's also a sports presenter for ANTV.
'Some of the fans will follow me home. They will follow me in a car, like stalkers, and then take photos of me from the outside. Some will also ask for my phone number.
'The last time I checked my Facebook account, I saw more than 1,000 outstanding 'friend requests'.
'I enjoy it. But sometimes, they can go overboard.'
Such attention has its dangers.
Ridhuan knows only too well that he must keep his feet on the ground.
He said: 'It's an experience which will live with me until the day I die.
'But I tell myself this: I may be very popular here but one day, when I go back to Singapore, it will be back to square one.
'So, there is really nothing to be big-headed about.'
In any case, he has Alam Shah watching over him like an elder brother.
Arema coach Robert Alberts has entrusted Alam Shah the task of making sure Ridhuan remains humble.
Alam Shah said: 'It's normal for a young player like Ridhuan to enjoy it. Alberts wants me to take care of him.
'I am doing my best. If he is playing badly, I will tell him so.
'I call him at 10 pm almost every night to check on him. But he has been behaving, lah.'

The things fans do for love
MALANG may be more than 1,400km away from Singapore, but you can still see a Singapore flag at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in every Arema Indonesia home game.
This gives you an idea of the affection the Arema fans feel for their two Singaporean players, Noh Alam Shah and Ridhuan Muhammad.
Said Alam Shah: 'Everytime I score, I would run towards the Singapore flag at the stadium and salute the flag.
'Yes, the fans actually wave a Singapore flag during our games. It measures about five by three metres.
'Actually, it used to be an Indonesia flag. The fans stitched a crescent and five stars on it to turn it into a Singapore one.
'Although Singapore and Indonesia are fierce rivals on the South-east Asia stage, the fans have accepted us.'
Ridhuan, who holds his own in the popularity stakes, also recalled a harrowing incident.
In a frenzy to buy a copy of the newspaper which contained a pull-out poster of him, a pregnant woman slipped while running out of the bathroom.
He said: 'She already knew that there was going to be a poster of me in that day's newspaper.
'But she was showering when he heard the newspaper vendor doing his round.
'So, she changed into her clothes, and as she ran out of the bathroom, she fell. She was sent to the hospital and delivered her baby the very same night.
'What a relief they are both okay.
'What's funnier is, the patient's wrist tag which she was wearing while in her ward bore my name instead of hers.'
Getting to the stadium on match days can be a scary experience.

Police escort
The team bus is always escorted by the police to cut down the travelling time. Even then, it doesn't stop fans from getting close to the team bus to catch a glimpse of their idols through the windows, or even snap photographs - not an easy feat since most of them travel on motorcycles.
Said Alam Shah, who had to stop to control his laughter as he recounted the incident: 'We were on the team bus, and this pillion rider on the motorcycle was right next to our bus.
'I waved to him and he was really thrilled. He in turn said something to the rider, who turned to look at me.
'In all his excitement, he lost control of his motorcycle and rammed into a tree.
'After that, they just picked up the motorcycle like nothing happened, caught up with us again and gave me the thumbs up.
'It was amazing.'
Even travelling on a lorry doesn't guarantee safety, as Alam Shah was quick to warn.
He said: 'On another occasion, I saw these guys on an open-top lorry, waving Arema Indonesia flags.
'The guys were looking out for their favourite players in our bus.
'But just as they were doing so, the lorry braked quite sharply. All of them fell and piled up in a heap at the back of the lorry.'

GARY LIM (TNP - 19/4/10)
1) Indonesia has a different football culture with us, i do think that they are more die-hard than european fans, probably more comparable to South American ones. Not a topic i like to dwell on too much actually as I think the focus here is to get the crowds off their couch, to stadiums and support the teams (not in a fanatical way for a start..)
2) If he is doing so well at Arema, then why cant Ridhuan turn it on when he dons the Lions shirt?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mou vs Lou - UCL final maybe?

About time i mentioned a bit on the European scene. Barca fan I may be, but i know its extremely difficult to retain the title and nobody has done it. Inter is the only reason Barca can miss out on retaining it, and Mou definitely is a strong factor.

Since the second round when i backed Inter to overcome Chelsea, they have have on the up - being in the best of form for a long time for an Inter team.

I expect the Ribery-Robben to send Bayern through to face Inter in the final & wat a final it will be, Mourinho vs Van Gaal! Come on, bring it on!

Below are just some feelings i have expressed on facebook in the past weeks:

Internazionale lies awaits, but is FC Hollywood up for the challenge next? The potential clash of 2 tactically astute managers bringing their 2nd club to the final...It would be a delightful & befitting final and story for the duo who worked together in Catalunya for 2 seasons.
7 hours ago
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Be gracious in defeat Mancunians. U were never going to win it this season at CR's home ground. Going all the way and then not winning it is the worst. We ll see either Jose's parting gift for Inter or Pep's team creating history by being the first team to retain it. Continue the chase for EPL. There's still chance.

My status 9 hrs ago was exactly spot-on as 'The Horse' wins it for Bayern. But i just realised its a nickname i gave him instead. Too bad mancunians.
March 31 at 9:04am Custom: loading... · Comment

'The Horse' could be the difference in Munich tonite.
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hahaI was right. The horse is a Croatian, by the name Ivica Olic. tats bcos he runs really alot during matches.
March 31 at 8:49am

Love hate relationship with Internazionale

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 9:50am Edit Note Delete
From the day in December when the draw for the first knockout phase was drawn, we had the feeling that Jose and his Inter team would go through and it proved. And luckily we stuck with that no matter what was said.

The happiness and joy had to be shown and this article is the way to show. Ooh La La!

Of course what has been talked about in Ibra’s departure forced Inter to play in another way definitely is true. They have definitely improved as a team. Many of the signings have been brilliant, Diego Milito a.k.a The Prince, in my opinion the perfect No 9 for Maradona. Along with Higuain and Leo, the trio will be devastating. With Kun on the bench, how does that sound? Ok back to Inter.

The real difference this season for the Nerazzuri has definitely been Wesley Sneijder. No doubt the best piece of transfer business in the summer. The missing playmaker that Inter has been looking for in years. Though not a natural one in an advanced position, he has adapted well.

Another will be the flying Dutchman at Allianz Arena, but he had cost much more. I am sure you guys are smart enough to know where they arrived from. Haha. Too bad my much admired Van der Vaart is still playing for that bloody team.

On a personal note, I have always said there’s a reason for the departure E'too from Nou Camp and the statement justifies itself. Similarly for Carlo from Milan. In both cases, I was happy to see them leave as it was time my teams moved on. No change no progression. Simple. By the way, if I am not wrong. Carlo has quite a bad record against Jose. Probably only one victory in about 5 games? and that came in last season’s derby win when Ronnie scored his first Milan goal with a header in a 1-0 win.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Woes at the Eagles' den

It seems the fallen giant's awokeness was a temporary one.

The fortutious Singapore Cup success last season, driven largely by a brilliant goalkeeper and strong team play has somewhat fallen apart this season and questions must be asked about the Eagles' performance, if there has been any. In truth, it has been abysmal.

'Negative' and 'too defensive' has been the greatest criticisms of them.

Injuries aside, I think the absence of Kim Jae Hong is beginning to show, with all due respect to Noor Ali. The Korean's imaginative play has sorely been missed as he could produce that few bits of quality to complement the doginess of the rest of the team. Without him, Miro has been asked to work overtime in the attacking department, which is taking its toll.

Mas has been missed too. Together with Kim & Yazid, these were 3 vital clogs in the mean green machine of 2009 that led to the cup success.

Fingers are starting to point at Coach Mike Wong. But in truth, it seems there are more serious than what it is on the surface. The running of the football side of things at Geylang was already put in a blurry state when 3 men were put in charge of the club before Mike 'officially' took charge last season (or was it in 2008?).

Anyway, sometimes I do feel that the team is restricting itself in terms of tactics trying to fit into a 3-5-2 or 3-6-1 formation. Yes the Eagles did have success when it was employed around 2001. But since then, only Home United and Tampines have played them formation to entertainment and success.

In my opinion, with the players currently available. A less sophisticated 4-4-2 would work well. Peter & Hafiz upfront, supported by Thaha, Itimi on the wings and Vasi cum Miro at the heart of midfield. Defence would be more tricky as its a big weakness. That could also be the reason why the Eagles have always needed to defend in numbers. Belo + Adrian at centrehalves with Shah Hirul and Jonathan at fullbacks will be the best I can think of. The keepers currenlty pick themselves.

I would think that this team will be able to play a better brand of football for its fans, whom i really feel has been suffering the past games.

It is currently an emergency situation for the Eagles. The 3 wisemen, or perhaps 4, must really wake up now and shape the team up in a way before it gets nearer the foot of the table and when the fans boycott their games.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Green Men at war in AFC Cup

The Eagles take on the Thais team tomorrow at JBS. Although I do not see them qualifying ultimately from the group, I do feel that the Eagles can get a positive result in this game.

Last time i graced JBS to watch the Eagles, they defeated Bangkok Glass to end their barren spell.

Planning to catch them in action tomorrow evening. Lets hope i will have something to cheer and write about post-game.

Highlights from the reverse 2-2 draw at Supachalasai Stadium, Bangkok