Thursday, December 13, 2012

C'mon Raddy

Dear Raddy,

I am telling you a problem and offering you a solution to it..

Please stop using the headless chicken brainless warrior Fazrul Nawaz. I admit he was an impressive as a youngster at Geylang United at for the Lions when he burst into the local scene. But sadly, he is no longer the winger he used to be and is no longer that versatile.

He is so used to feeding off his club teammate Mislav Karolgan upfront he can no longer survive on the wing.

How many times did you need to shout at him? I heard every shout and counted about 25-35 times during his 45mins "run out" yesterday.

Was your instruction to him to foul people and do rugby tackles? I know he is trained in boxing but we are playing football.

Hafiz Rahim would be the perfect sub to use to our right wing. He is pacy, hardworking and more tricky. Will probably give you more defensive cover as well. One thing for sure, he is more hungry than Fazrul.

You need to listen to me, now.

Your paymaster via my tax contributions

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Alessandro Nesta - Best Defender ever

A pity he should have played in the WC Final.

Nesta + Cannavaro
Nesta + Maldini

Any pairing would be a joy to watch. The Art of Defending.

The man who makes the No 13 jersey famous. Grazie.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Gracias Pep

The man has come this far.

11 years ago, nobody knew much/or ever heard of the name Pep. When you said the name almost everyone would give me a stone face, with the exception of perhaps my fellow longtime Barca fan WX.

Now, because of the team he has built, the football philosophy he has passed on and instilled in his charges, the man that is Josep Guardiola is a household name to all footy fans.
The former captain of the Catalan giants has indeed put Barcelona's football on the world map.

Even the Barca fan in me had my reservations when Pep was installed as manager in 2008 due to his only experience as B team manager.

But now with 4 years gone and 13 titles already, it would perhaps be fitting if Pep signs off with a last Copa Del Rey trophy.

As a player, his major achievement was being part of the 1992 European Cup winning team. A deep lying midfielder whose tacking is not the best, Pep's game revolved around his vision and his eye for the killer pass. Keeping things simple. However serious injuries curtailed his contribution for the Catalans though I believe he played enough during Van Gaal's time to lift the La Liga. His successor in the Barca team was a certain Xavi Hernandez, a player in the similar mould who was to ultimately surpass his master.

As a manager, his contribution to me are numerous:
- Rebuilding the post-Frank Rijkaard team by installing confidence
- Bringing back Gerard Pique
- Important signings in Seydou Keita & Dani Alves
- Discovering and promoting many B team players
- Ultimately creating a team centred around Messi and moving his from a wide attacker to the main forward
- A remodelling of the usual 4-3-3 to a 3-4-3 to utilise the talents of his team

The misses would include:
-Getting rid of Yaya Toure for 24mil pounds
- Not managing to integrate Alex Hleb
- Dud signing of Dimitry Chrgrynsky for 27mil  

Still in all, it has been a brilliant 4 years to put Barca on firmly on the world football map. 
Gracias Pep!
Visca Barca, Visca Catalunya!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Streetfighters #3 & #4

Nobody else in the football world at this point of time are as notorious as them. Kick, bully, argue, everything under the sun.

Catching Real in the past week in the UCL semis reminded me of it and made me coined a new nickname for them, yeah at 3ish am.

Introducing the REAL Streetfighters!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

El Fenomeno's all around the world review (Apr 2012)

Simply enjoying the twists and turns and the bookmaking influences. Wigan’s win wasn’t totally unexpected. The top team with such a long win streak was bound to cockup some game on the way, the fact they didn’t turn up for much of the game was surprising, or maybe not.

Stay tuned while the Mancheter teams fight it out. Kun-Carlitos partnership should be a joy to watch.

**At press conference before Norwich's game, Quizzed about Super-Mario, Roberto Mancini's Nokia phone has a familiar message beep, he checks it and tells reporters that its Mario and that he wants to play tomorrow. the media breaks into laughter! good one Roberto hahahahaha

Can Antonio Conte follow the steps of Pep in becoming yet another former captain to win a league title in his debut season & repay my faith with his reign and clinch the Serie?

If I got it correct, Jose has always managed to clinch the domestic title in his 2nd season with all his teams, be it Porto, Chelsea, Inter. So Real should clinch it and break Super-Barca’s strangleold.

RM vs Bayern – This is the sort of fixture I relish, a real Champions league clash. I must say there hasn’t been many this season. The kind of players that will be on display and the rich history of these 2 team in the past. Giovanni Elber, Effenberg, Scholl, Jeremies, Khan, Lizarazu, Sagnol (Roque santa cruz) vs the Raul-Morientes led Real in the 1999 & 2001 clashes. So this is huge and something to look forward. To.

DPMM Brunei– Unbelievable, with 2 years out of competitive football.

Harimau Muda – Interesting team after I finally watch them in action. Wan Zack Hiakel is one to watch.

Home United
Shi Jiayi at centreback? Coach Lee is really creative. Qiu-naldo remains lazy but magical. Good to see Indra coming back. Shotaro Ihata is quality. Home vs Chonburi coming up soon in AFC Cup is be great to watch. Always good to see local teams pit their wits against regional teams.

Great disappointment. Same old criticism on Fazrul but doubts creeping in on some of the higher profile players as well. Mislav Karolgan is a delight usually.

Still coming to terms with the changes in foreigners who are still adapting. Should get better, lets hope ALK will be able to star in the league soon

Darren Stewart returning to his own den and leading the team well. Leadership of Paul Cunningham is still key.

Michael King is a real deal. A Englishman who doesn’t play like one looking his at technique and cultured left foot. Good to see more younger players coming through.
Good to be watching the play of Okuyama, Shimono and the No 10.

Webb is still entertaining and firing. Ante Barac looks an excellent signing and Coach Nenad has built on the strong team spirit from Aide Iskandar’s days. The pitch at Hougang is probably the best turf on catch good football.

Young Lions
Sirina Camara at centreback is weird. Or is it a one-off?Yes I did feel he plays like Eric Abidal last season but need not put him at centreback to confirm my thoughts right haha?

Comments of Tanjong Pagar, Gombak, Young Lions, Woodlands on hold till I watch more of them.

Nicolas Anelka’s player-coach appointment is crazy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sleague 2012 kicksoff: Hougang Utd vs Tanjong Pajar Utd

The opening night of the 2012 season brought the Jaguars of Tanjong Pajar to the Cheetah’s den of Hougang United.

With last season’s heart-stopping 4-3 thriller still in the back of many fans’ mind, they could be forgiven for expecting something similar in this “catfight”.

But in the end, the storyline was of the home side dominating large parts of the game but unable to grab a winner as the away side put up a valiant display to secure a 1-1 draw.

To be fair, the Jaguars always look threatening whenever they broke for counter-attacks, led by their East Asian foreign trio.

It consisted of the team’s top scorer of last season - Takaya Kawanabe, and a pair of Koreans making their league debut. Midfielder Jang In Jun impressed with his tenacity and touches while Lee Joo Sang showed great feet and was constantly a thorn in the Cheetah’s defence with his darting runs.

Hougang fans, on the other hand, also witnessed the maiden bow of their Croatian duo. While Stanislav Vidakovic probably still need some convincing in defence, 32 year old Ante Barac was at his enterprising best in midfield, showing excellent ball sense and the ability to distribute ala Velimir Crljen (SAFFC’s playmaker in the league’s formative years).

Little doubt hence that the game’s opening goal for Hougang on 23 minutes came via an assist from Barac, whose sweet cross from the left saw flying winger Jordan Webb produce a gigantic leap to plan a header at the far corner for 1-0.

However, the lead did not last as admiration of the part of Vidakovic let Kawanabe in and the Japanese needed no second invitation, showing great composure before equalizing with a left-foot curler on 28 minutes.

The home side was rattled but slowly got back into their mode. A lovely free-kick on 4o minutes by Barac had half the crowd shouting goal but alas the strike ended up at the side-netting.

In the 56th minute, Hougang could have netted the second but Jaguars’ custodian Fajar Sarib denied Fazli Jaffar smartly before the deflection was ballooned wastefully by Nurhilmi Jasni.

By this time, Tanjong Pagar was already slowly getting into their defensive shape of men behind the ball with their young captain Delwinder Singh leading the backline while relying on the speedy Lee upfront on his own to cause problems further upfield.

Hougang were restricted to long range efforts as Barac, Azhar Sairudin and rightback Faizal Amir all made Fajar earned his keep in goal.

In the 86th minute, when they finally manage to penetrate into the Jaguars’ penalty area as Webb created space out of nowhere to setup substitute Basit Hamid, Fajar was again alert to deflect the effort out wide was denied.

Then a flowing move in injury time involving Basit and Barac almost saw Azhar finish the move he started but his final shot lack bite and Fajar was able to claw the ball away.

In the first post-match interview with since his return to coaching in Singapore, Hougang coach Nenad Bacina lamented that his players deserved more than a point from the game.

“I am happy with the commitment, approach and how we played, but of course we can’t be happy with the final result.

“But this is football, it doesn’t mean when you control the game for 80 minutes, you will win the game”, he added.
The former Woodlands coach also revealed that his optimism in that Mamadou Diallo should be available for selection the next game as there will be two chances for the livewire forward to clear his mandatory Beep test.

For Jaguars’ coach Terry Pathmanathan, he felt his players still needed time to gel as a team.
“The players was nervous and pressured for much of the game, even the more senior players.

They looked like they were afraid of holding the ball, when in fact, they are more than capable of doing so”, the former national captain commented.

No doubt he will be working on his charges in training to whip them into shape. However there was a sour note for the Jaguars as veteran journeyman Azlan Alipah was taken to hospital in what could be a serious knee injury.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

REWIND 8/11/2009 - Eagles overcome all odd to end 8-year barren spell

Date: 8 November 2009
Location: Jalan Besar
Match Attendance: 5,870

8 November 2009 has earned itself a place in Geylang United’s history books after the Eagles rounded off a fine 2009 campaign in style by overcoming their underdog tag to clinch the Singapore Cup.

It was the first piece of silverware that the once all-conquering giants of local football took home in eight long years.

In front of a vociferous crowd of 5,870, the Eagles showed character, resilience and discipline to outwit the smooth passing Thai outfit Bangkok Glass through a solitary strike from substitute Hafiz Rahim in the 82th minute.

Man-of-the match Yazid Yasin was in the form of his life, proving to be a one-man wall on many occasions as he repelled the Thais repeatedly to keep his team in the game. His performance was capped by a superb penalty save in the 87th minute.

Coach Mike Wong made one change to his previous starting eleven as he reinstated club captain Noor Ali into a packed midfield.

The Eagles started the match tentatively as they allowed the Thais the early possession. It was only in the 13th minute that the team put together their first inventive move of the night through a counter attack involving Syed Thaha, Miroslav Latiak, Kim Jae Hong and Noor which led to a corner.

From the ensuing set-piece, the Thais broke swiftly to the other end as dangerman Gbenga Ajayi warded off two challenges before unleashing a shot which Yazid palmed away.

Five minutes later, Masrezwan Masturi (Mas) picked up a loose ball and drove at the Thai team backline. As the defence closed him down, Mas laid the ball out wide to Noor who then picked him out with a first time cross but the latter could not make a clean connection.

Ajaki was proving to be a handful for the Eagles and in the 33th minute, the Nigerian raced into the box and pulled the ball back for his strike partner. Luckily, Walid Lounis managed to deflect the effort to safety.

Geylang was getting into the game gradually and two freekicks either side of the half-time break almost provided the breakthrough.

As the game headed to first half injury time, Kim went on a solo run after being played through by Adrian Dhanaraj before being chopped down unceremoniously by the Thais’ captain Amnart.

Off Latiak’s powerpack attempt which deflected off the wall, Kim stole in and tried to nick the ball past keeper Klisana but the angle was just too tight.
The Korean then curled a brilliant left-foot set-piece attempt himself which narrowly missed the goal three minutes after the break.

Through another counter in the 63th minute, Latiak raced down at goal after Noor had played him in with a delightful chip, however, an unexpected bounce off the artificial turf allowed the Thais’ defence to recover and clear the danger.

It sparked Bangkok Glass into action as they started a series of intense bombardment of the Eagles’ goal soon after with playmaker Peeraphong in the thick of things.
The No. 23 gave the slip to both Adrian and Rastislav Belicak in the 64th minute before testing Yazid with a stinger from inside the box which the keeper responded with a brilliant save.

Eight minutes later, Peeraphong’s fierce drive from the edge of the box again needed the intervention of the increasing busy Yazid.

Next, a far post header back across goal from a corner situation for the Thais soon after bounced dangerously just in front the Eagles goal. Once again Yazid showed great agility to punch clear as the Eagles sought to weather the storm.

Geylang rode their luck and their determination was rewarded in the 82th minute. Klisana flapped at Kim’s corner and a goalmouth melee ensued.
Within the space of seconds, Noor and Hafiz Rahim – who had come on ten minutes earlier for Mas, saw their efforts cannoned off the woodwork.

As it is, Lady Luck smiled at the Eagles in the pinball situation as the ball fell at the feet of Hafiz a second time and this time, the striker who had been unlucky with injuries the past few seasons, produced an unerring finish as the fans in green roared in absolute joy.

A controversial decision from the match officials minutes later then had the Eagles’ fans up in protest.

Referee Kenny Ng had waved play on when Ajaki went down under a challenge inside the box. However, the referee overruled his decision when he saw the linesman flagging and instead gave the Thais a penalty kick.

Geylang players disputed the decision and Kim was booked for carrying his arguments too far.

The stage was set for Yazid to play hero yet again and the Geylang custodian obliged by pulling off a stunning save from Supachai.

Frustration soon took over the Thais and substitute Nantawat was given a straight red card in the 90th minute for a tackle from behind on Kim.

The Eagles held on for the remaining three minutes of added time and joyous scenes soon broke out at the final whistle.

Coach Mike Wong post-match attributed this tremendous cup run to the fantastic team spirit in the dressing room and revealed that he is hoping to build on this success for next season which will also see a return to the AFC Cup for the Eagles.While the Eagles celebrate this latest success, we all hope that this will be the start of a new dawn for Geylang United in the coming seasons.

Report by: Hugo Ng

Thursday, January 12, 2012

When everyone is taling about 12Lions

Now that the media and fans have warmed up to 12Lions, think I can take a break about talking about local soccer for awhile.

Ultimately I am on the side of the realists who are concerned about our own local league - S.league!

We will hope for the spillover considering in many sense S.league standard is actually comparable to the M League.

Well just have to strive harder to bring our own league up 1 level when the season begins!

Uniform Derby (S.league) - 31/12/11

A phone call between the coaches was all it took as the country’s two uniformed teams put their recent work on the training pitch to test on New Year’s Eve at Jalan Besar Stadium.

In the end, the game went in favour of the side which have had a solid week of pre-season training – SAF FC, by a 2-0 scoreline.

In contrast, Home United had just started work three days earlier. Coach Lee Lim Seang’s main intention was to check on the condition of his charges after having spent the past weeks back in Korea to attain his UEFA Pro Licence.

During the game, the Warriors paraded their two new signings from Tampines - Shukor Zailan and Hassan Sunny, along Eddie Chang and a bunch of promising young boys who have been promoted from their Prime League team.

Lee, on the same note, took a first look at promising Hafiz Nor (from Tanjong Pagar) and compatriot Chang Jo Yoon (from Gombak), while checking out a new look defence consisting of seasoned campaigners like Sofiyan Abdul Hamid, Jeremy Chiang and Zahid Ahmad along a Korean trialist.

However it was in midfield where the attention was as it featured former Warriors Rhysh Roshan Rai and the ever industrious John Wilkinson, who was returning from his Thai adventure.

New signing Shotaro Ihata was carrying a minor injury, thus did not feature, as were key men Shi Jiayi and Frederic Mendy who were still on holiday.

Earlier on in the game, it was Shahril Jantan in the Warriors goal who was the busiest as he was tested fully by Hafiz, Roshan Rai and Qiu Li. Wilkinson also had a trademark long range blaster crashing against the woodwork.

But it was the returnee in the Warriors’ camp - Ruzaini Zainal (on loan to Young Lions), that was instrumental in the final result as the winger were involved in both moves which saw the strike duo of Fazrul Nawaz and Erwan Gunawan finish off in the 30th and 33th minute.

Notably, the second period saw the return to action of Hassan in the Warriors’ goal and the national custodian impressed in his run-out with a couple of good saves.

Post-match, SAF coach Richard Bok expressed satisfaction with the game as he maintained the priority in making his team gel quickly before the season begins.

“We still have five players who are not back with us”, referring to Daniel Bennett, foreign signings Mislav Karolgan, Shimpei Sakurada, Tatsuro Inui and former Japanese youth international Seiji Saito.

With his recent acquisitions, Bok is hopeful that the reshaped team will be able to play the ideal type of football he is envisaging.

“We are trying to move towards a passing game, to keep the ball as much as possible. Hopefully, with these new guys, we can build a more balanced game to challenge for honours”.

While Bok has settled on his squad and strategy for the coming season, it is obvious the same cannot be same with Lee.

Quizzed about his defence which seemed vulnerable on many occasions during the game following the confirmation of defensive rock Valery Hiek to Thai outfit Bangkok Glass, it seemed Lee had already in place a partial solution.

“As you saw today, we got a big problem (in defence)!” he quipped.

“So I have called Kenji (Arai) and he is coming back next week to be with us”.

The experienced Japanese defender had earlier left the Protectors after not being offered an extension to his deal.

“People can worry about our defence now, but we train as a unit and let’s see what we can show when the season starts”, he smiled confidently.