Monday, February 23, 2009


PEA v SAFFC 18/02 - one fan's unhappy experience

I received this e mail from a Singaporean football fan who had travelled to Bangkok last week to seethe above ACL qualifier. His story is pretty self explanatory but the message is loud and clear. Football in this region needs to get its PR sorted. Bryan is a keen football fan, the kind of guy who is prepared to travel distances to see games. While the AFC maybe more interested in revenues from TV and other sponsorship it should not overlook the fan on the terrace. Especially the ones who are prepared to give up their own time like Bryan did.

I had a frustrating time in BKK. I DIDN"T CATCH THE GAME @ ALL!!! I arrived at the hotel 4 hours before kickoff. I read from one of the reporters, Gary Koh's ORGINAL article on Feb 16th (it was amended later) that the game will be played @ the Thai Army Sports stadium coz Thammasat Uni's stadium doesn't meetAFC criteria (strange coz it hosted the Asian Games soccer event in 1998). I was delighted coz the Thai Army Stadium is nearer to my hotel. Thus, with so much time on hand, I actually walked to the stadia in 2 hrs & took motorcycle transport when I hit the vicinity. When I arrived 1.5 hrs before kickoff, I found it strange that the stadium was empty with no policemen, no ticketseller, no organizers etc..

I entered the stadia, sat @ the grandstand & found a few army guys running there. I sensed something was wrong about 1hr before kickoff & called writer, Po Hui to verify. He doesn't know where they are playing as well. Then I called my female colleague who helped me surfed the AFC website but she doesn't know how to look for the interview article with SAF coach, Richard Bok. Thus, I thought that the game has been reinstated to the Thammasat University stadia again so I quickly made my way there via taxi.

The ignorant taxi driver only dropped me @ the Uni's doorstep coz the security guy @ the entrance said that the stadia was nearby. Both of them don't understand English & I showed them a kicking action & mentioned Therdsak Chaiman's name. The securityguy nodded his head & used his fingers to indicate that SAF will lose the game 2-1. I thought I must have hit jackpot & I tried to locate the stadium which is at least 3km away! Along the way, some uni students (who can speak English) gave me directions to the stadium but when I arrived there- I only found students doing track & field stuff, playing football on the pitch....

There was no damned game!! By then,it was 6pm Thai time & the game has already kickoffed. I was so disheartened & frustrated by all the mindless running about that I made my way back to the hotel via cab. I was even chased by a dog outside the stadia. It was jam hour & it took me an hour to reach my hotel. Along the way, I had messaged all my S-League pals about my bad experience. Then one of the SAF reserve player's dad texted me to find out the score. I told him my bad experience & he told me that the game was in fact played @ the RAJAMANGALA NATIONAL STADIUM- right in front of my hotel doorsteps!!!

Urggh...On the highway near my hotel, I could see the floodlights from Rajamangala (the game was about 75 minutes old by then) but I had already lost the mood. I ddin't know the score at that point of time but had I known, I could have made it for the extra time period.

Granted.....I am partly to blame as I had 5 chances to verify the venue before the game:

1) I had only scanned through Richard Bok's interview by AFC on Feb 16th & probably missed out on the venue detail;
2) I could have checked out the venue again @ Changi Airport when I was surfing the internet;
3) I could have verified the venue @ the hotel lobby when I was flippin through the English papers but didn't pay attention to the sports section;
4) I could have called my friend, Peh, the SAF kitman who texted me in Bangkok 4 hours before kickoff & I replied him that I knew there was a change of venue to the Thai Army Sports Stadium. And being less proficient in English, he probably doesn't understand my reply. Still, I should have called him @ that point of time and not 1 hour before kickoff when his phone was off.
5) I should have called the reseved player's dad, instead of my colleague, right?

Still, I don't think it's right for AFC to change the venue 2 days before the game when the fixture & venue was already fixed way back in Dec. Gosh....they have bloody 2 months to ascertain whether the Thammasat pitchis suitable for the can they be so unprofessional by switching the stadia @ the 11th hour?

Just imagine...A World Cup game is slated to be played in New York & then FIFA announces that the game has to be played in LA 2 days before the scheduled date. I am sure all of us will be tearing our hair out coz our flights, accomodation plans etc will be thrown into disarray!! Simply frustrating coz I have never screwed up for all these overseas football trips....Sigh.

Anyway, PEA has been relegated to Home United's AFC Cup group after the defeat. Undeterred, I'll likely make the trip again to bAngkok & this time, I am bloody sure it's Rajamangala Stadium coz the other stadias in Thailand don't meet AFC criteria. Yup...this time round, I'll verify with whatever sources I can lay my hands on before I fly.

"seethe above ACL qualifier"?

Yes, I'd say he's seething even now. **dadumpbum**
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?