Monday, October 29, 2012


Strong Persipura Ready For ISL Assault

Persipura are looking for their third Indonesia Super League and fourth title since 2005 and no one will be underestimating them when the ISL kicks off in January.

The Black Pearls have continued their policy of continuity in the ranks with a couple of quality signings to freshen the mix.

Ricardo Salempessy, Ortisan Solossa, Stevie Bonsapia, Zah Rahan, and Boas Solossa are still there of course but in have come Patrick Wanggai and Yohanes Pahabol.

The team will again be coached by the toothpick chewing Brazilian Jacksen F Tiago.


Indonesian Ownership Merry Go Round

Unlike the English Premier League where foreigner owners are seemingly queuing up to buy teams, in Indonesia no one wants to invest serious money in anything beyond a shopping mall or condominium.

Last week Pelita Jaya was sold to Bandung Raya. Now the erstwhile are back in football having bought Arema. It's hardly the most spectacular deal in the history of world football; both Pelita Jaya and Arema were owned by the same people just under different names so don't get too excited.

One coach being linked with the new entity is Simon McMenemy, formerly of Philippines and Mitra Kukar.

Arema will be coached by Rahmad Darmawan, who last season coached Pelita Jaya, and it is likely several players will follow the coach to Malang. Those that don't apparently will be offered to Pelita Bandung Raya.

At least we can't accuse the left hand of not knowing what the right hand is doing. It's just the rest of us who don't have a scooby.



SINGAPORE - SAFFC dug deep to come from behind and give outgoing coach Richard Bok a perfect sending off, when they defeated Tampines Rovers 2-1 in the RHB Singapore Cup final at the Jalan Besar Stadium tonight. 

Tampines first took the lead in the 25th minute, thanks to a mistake by SAFFC goalkeeper Shahril Jantan in the 25th minute.

The 31-year-old had dived to palm away an in-swinging cross from Tampines midfielder Ismadi Mukhtar. However, instead of tipping the ball over the bar, he ended up knocking it into his own net as his defenders watched on in horror.

Although SAFFC fashioned few goal scoring chances, they eventually managed to draw level from a 78th minute corner kick when Shimpei Sakurada beat a horde of yellow shirts to the ball to slam it home.

SAFFC substitute Erwan Gunawan then won it for the Warriors in injury time when he hammered home from inside the box after the Tampines defence failed to clear their lines, raising the roof at Jalan Besar. 

This is Bok's seventh major trophy with the Warriors, after four league titles and two Singapore Cup wins in a period of dominance between 2006 and 2009. 

The result also shatters Tampines' hopes of achieving a league and cup double this season. 

The Stags are currently leading DPMM Brunei in the league by a point, and must win their final match of the this week against Malaysia's Harimau Muda to clinch the league crown. DPMM are hosting Balestier Khalsa in Brunei Darussalam on the same day.

In the earlier match for third and fourth place, Gombak United demolished Loyola Meralco Sporks FC of the Philippines 4-0.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Mystery Of German Footballer Nicked In Pattaya

Former West Ham United forward Savio Nsereko Malaga has been arrested in Pattaya. Apparently he'd caned 1,000,000 Thai baht in 2 weeks and had asked people back him to bail him out because he had been kidnapped!

Malaga, who spent some time in 2009 with West Ham is supposedly playing for SpVgg Unterhaching in Germany's third tier but for some reason is in Pattaya having his jollies?

Today, as he gets humiliated in the local media and on bored blogs like this his team mates are playing Stuttgarter Kickers.

Two questions leap out. First, how the hell can anyone spend two weeks in Pattaya? And spend 1,000,000 THB? On what? Sod all to do there apart from get pissed from morn till night.


Malaysian Team Want Fowler

Kuala Lumpur. A Malaysian football club is working to bring Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler in as player-manager, a report said Thursday.

T-Team, based in the eastern state of Terengganu, said it is in talks with the 37-year-old former England forward to ply his trade in the Malaysian professional league next year, according to The Star newspaper.

"We are negotiating with him as we want to assess his fitness level," Ahmad Said, chief minister of Terengganu, which funds the club side, was quoted by The Star as saying.

He said Fowler, who netted 183 goals for Liverpool, would undergo trials to "make sure he is suited for the role of striker."

Liverpool is widely supported in football-crazy Malaysia.

AFP was unable to reach T-Team for comment.

Fowler, who is the English Premier League's fourth-highest goalscorer of all time with 162 goals, left British football in 2009 and spent the last three years playing in Australia and Thailand.

The Liverpool great last played for Muangthong United, where he was player-coach until February.

If the deal goes through, he will follow in the footsteps of other former England internationals such as Tony Cottee and David Rocastle who graced the Malaysian league in the 1990s.

Friday, October 26, 2012


DPMM Expect Local Backing

Despite Brunei serving a two year ban by FIFA from international football, the Sultanate's only professional club DPMM FC find themselves neck to neck with Tampines Rovers FC in the race for the Singapore League (S-League) title.
The Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (BAFA) was deregistered from the Registrar of Societies in November 2008 for failing to submit its activity and financial reports as requested.

It was then suspended by FIFA for government interference during its executive committee meeting in September 2009.

The ban was lifted on May 30, 2011 thanks to the normalisation committee, which was chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, who is now the Honorary President of the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD), during FIFA's annual congress.

Defending champions Tampines currently lead the Bruneian side by one point with both teams having a final game to play.

Both teams will take to the field next Friday with DPMM FC taking on Balestier Khalsa FC while the Stags play Harimau Muda (Malaysian national Under-23 team).

A win alone will not be enough for DPMM FC to hoist the trophy, they will also be praying for a Tampinesslip up.

Tampines win will mean DPMM FC end the season at second, an impressive feat for a squad that have been missing from competitive football in two years.

But DPMM FC head coach Vjeran Simunic has set his eyes on victory in their final match of the season at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium in Berakas.

"In the last 23 games, we were never relaxed. We played 200 per cent in every game," said Simunic.

He attributed Wednesday's 3-1 win against Hougang United FC as one of the most crucial.

"The win makes us concentrate more and we must not lose that confidence," said the head coach.

"Hougang is a wonderful team... we were under a lot of pressure in that game but we showed why we are one of the best teams in the region," he said.

But the coach knows that the fate of his team lies in the hands of a under-powered Harimau Muda, currently missing a number of players called up for national duty.

"Tampines have really good players and if Harimau Muda does not play their full team... the match between these two clubs will be a 50-50 (toss up)," said Simunic.

The Croatian added that even if they were to finish the season as runner-ups, it would be a fantastic result for the team whose initial target was to secure a top-five finish in the league.

Simunic also used the opportunity to call out all Brunei fans to provide their full support for the club come Friday.

"For this last game, I expect at least 30,000 or more people to come and support the team," he said.


Pelita Jaya Bought Out Surprise

After weeks of speculation that Arema would merge with Pelita Jaya comes news that Pelita Jaya have been bought by Bandung Raya, currently playing in the semi professional set up.

A surprise move but one that makes better sense than any proposed merger with Arema.

No news yet on what the new club will be named or where they will play.

It's certainly a strange move though and perhaps is an indication of Bandung Raya's ambition but is Bandung big enough for two top clubs? The city is 100% Persib blue as is much of the province. Pelita Jaya have tried several times to make in roads in the market hosting games in Purwakarta, Soreang and Karawang but have failed to make any real impact while second tier Persipasi Bekasi have relied on their closeness to Jakarta to differentiate themselves from the rest of the province.

Bandung also saw a short lived second team when Bandung FC joined the Indonesia Premier League but they struggled to attract supporters and at one stage played home games in Kuningan before effectively calling it a day halfway through their first season.

Pelita Jaya's previous owners were the Bakries of course, prime movers at the ISL and the KPSI. They have been identified with Pelita Jaya so long does this sale tell us anything about a potential drawback from football or do they intend to put all their eggs into one Arema basket?

Where this leaves the likes of Safee Sali and Greg Nwokolo remains to be seen.

Last season they were also involved with PSMS and Deltras.

Bandung Raya are not unknown in Indonesian football. They won the first ever Liga Indonesia back in the mid 1990s.


Bok's Final Fling

It's not often you find a true one club man in South East Asian football. The idea of loyalty hasn't quite caught on with club owners who see their football clubs as little more than a toy to be tinkered with and a photo opportunity.

SAFFC coach Richard Bok breaks that mould. He has been with the club since 1996 but his career ended as a player before it ever really got started and since then he moved behind the scenes to do a variety of odd jobs before becoming coach in 2006.

It was the start of an unprecedented era for the Warriors as Bok led them to four consecutive SLeague titles and two Singapore Cups.

With an unchanging spine that featured the likes of Shahril Jantan, Daniel Bennett and Aleskander Duric SAFFC were unassailable domestically.

The last few seasons have been hard for the club as Tampines Rovers have risen to the fore and this season they find themselves in an unfamiliar mid table position.

My favourite Bok tale comes from an ACL qualifier against Muang Thing United at Jalan Besar. I was standing pitchside with him as he watched his charges warm up ahead of the tie. It was a typical Singapore evening. The home fans were silent while a few visiting Thais were kicking up a racket in the stand.

As we talked a short sweaty suited individual approached us, smoke coming out of his ears. He stood by dancing dancing with rage, face fixed in apoplexy and telling me I had to get away from the pitch and if he had to talk to me again he would throw me out of the stadium. It was my first ever run in with the dreaded match commissioner!

Myself and Richard just smiled.

Over the years I have found the SAFFC coach to be affable and approachable and he was a great help as I started to branch out and cover the game in Singapore.

His final bow comes this Sunday when SAFFC take on Tampines Rovers in the Singapore Cup final, one final chance to win some silverware for his beloved Warriors and affording me the opportunity to write the word final one final time to make it six times I have used 'final' in one sentence.

Bok bows out at the end of the season, or is bowed out.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Bali Devata Cup

We’ve had the Batik Cup. Now we have the Bali Devata Cup to be held on the island of the gods early November.

This competition will feature home town heroes Persires Bali Devata, near neighbours Persewangi, Persebaya and the Timor Leste national team.

Also featured apparently are Indonesia and the Philippines national teams as they prepare for the AFF Cup later in November.

07/11 Indonesia v Timor Leste
08/11 Bali Devata v Persebaya
09/11 Indonesia v Philippines
10/11 Persewangi v Timor Leste
11/11 winner Bali Devata/Persebaya v winner Persewangi/Timor Leste

Readers who follow football in the Philippines feel it is unlikely they will be sending a team to compete as they will be busy domestically. Don't shoot the messenger lads! One of the few joys I have in life in reporting Indonesia's planned friendlies. In recent years Ivory Coast, Argentina and Netherlands have been announced as visiting these shores!

Original story can be found here


IPL Play Offs

Next month will finally see closure on the Indonesia Premier League, it ended back in July, when the final play offs will decide which teams will compete in the official top flight next year.

For those who have forgotten Semen Padang were the first ever winners of the IPL in its second season; the first season went on a mid season break and never returned while PSMS were relegated to Divisi Utama.

The three teams that finished top of their respective Divisi Utama regional divisions were automatically promoted; Pro Duta, Persepar Palangkarya and Perseman Manokwari.

Last season’s IPL featured 12 teams. With one down and three promoted so far that makes, um, 14. The IPL hope to have 16 teams next season so the teams that finished second in their respective divisions will go into a play off with Bontang, who finished 11th in the IPL with the top two joining the top flight.

The play offs, to be played in either Medan or Manado during the AFF Cup, see Bontang joined by PSLS, PSIR and Persebul Buol.

None of this is fixed in stone. IPL champions Semen Padang have asked to join the ISL, which no doubt would see them precluded from playing in the AFC Champions League, as have Persijap Jepara. If they were to jump ship that would of course mean another two teams to join the IPL.

To add to the confusion Persija IPL have been told by the courts they can no longer use the Persija name. 

Anyone with enough sarnies to make a picnic would have known this. Persija IPL were forced to play their home games in Madiun because the fans of Persija ISL refused to accept them in Jakarta. Apparently Persija IPL are appealing which proves the lengths people go to when they have someone else’s money.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Thai Training Squad AFF Cup 2012

Goalkeepers: Sivaruck Tedsungnoen (Buriram United), Kawin Thammasatchanan (Muangthong United), Kosin Hembut (Army United), Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool (Chonburi)

Defenders: Panupong Wongsa, Weerawut Kayem, Piyaphon Bantao (Muangthong United), Anucha Kitpongsri, Cholratit Jantakam, Nattaphong Samana, Jetsadakorn Hemdaeng (Chonburi), Theerathon Bunmathan (Buriram United), Nattaporn Phanrit (BEC Tero Sasana), Niweat Siriwong (Pattaya United), Chaiwat Nak-iem (Army United), Prahyat Bunya (Ratchaburi)

Midfield: Datsakorn Thonglao, Pichitpoing Choeichiu, Jakkraphan Pornsai (Muangthong United), Adul Lahso (Chonburi), Anthony Ampaipitakwong, Jakkraphan Kaewprom, Surat Sukha (Buriram United), Apipoo Suntornpanavej (Osotspa Saraburi), Chanathip Songkrasin (BEC Tero Sasana), Attapong Nooprom (Ratchaburi)

Strikers: Teerasil Dangda (Muangthong United), Pipob On-mo (Chonburi), Suriya Domtaisong (Buriram United), Chatree Chimtalay (Bangkok Glass), Tana Chanabut, Surachart Sareepim (Police United), Kirati Keawsombat (Wuachon United), Napat Thamrongsupakorn (Samut Songkhram), Sompong Soleb (Bangkok United)


More Malaysian Success

Arsene Wenger likes to say Arsenal don't buy world class players; they make them. And yep, names like Adebayor, Bendtner, Chamakh, Denilson, Eboue, they just roll off the tongue like a 4 year old reciting the alphabet.

But in Malaysia they win things. The Under 21s, fielding mostly Harimau Muda A (SLeague) and Harimau Muda B (Malaysia Premier League) players won the Newspaper Cup held recently in Vietnam.

The cultured D Saarvindran scoring for Malaysia Under 16s back in 2008
In their opening game they defeated Laos Under 21 4-2 and they followed that up by beating Sydney by the same score before defeating the Thais 1-0 in the final group game.

In the final they came up against the hosts and Malaysia won it 1-0.

So another trophy to go alongside the AFF Cup 2012 and the SEA Games 2009 and 2011.

I've been saying this for a number of years but ahead of the AFF Cup next month it is worth repeating. Malaysia are building for the future big time and that was evident when I saw them compete in the AFF Under 16 Cup in Jakarta a few years back. Their professionalism was head and shoulders above their ASEAN rivals Indonesia and Singapore and they are reaping the benefits of that hard work and attention to detail.

With Indonesia divided and the Thais looking like they don't give a crap about international football Malaysia will have to find their rivals elsewhere.

While many will be familiar with Gary Robbat from the 2008 squad that played in the Under 16s in Jakarta for me the star of that team was D Saarvindran, a tireless midfielder.

Newspaper Cup 2012 squad

Mohd Farhan Abu Bakar, Mohd Ariff Farhan, D. Saarvindran, Mohd Irfan Fazail, A. Thamil Arasu, Shahrul Saad, Nazirul Naim Che Hashim, Mohd Fandi Othman, Syahrul Azwari Ibrahim, Mohd Raphi Azizan, Syazwan Tajuddin, Ahmad Hazwan Bakri, Mohd Izham Tarmizi (Harimau Muda A)
Mohd Nashriq Yahya, Mohd Firdaus Mohd (Harimau Muda B)
Mohd Azrif Nasrulhaq Badrul Hisham (PKNS)
Adam Nor Azlin (SSBJ)
Muhd Nuridzuan Hassan, D. Kenny Pallraj (Perak)
Syazuan Hazani (ATM)


Help! Common Sense Breaking Out Shock

KUALA LUMPUR - Future Singapore teams in Malaysian domestic competitions should be more developmental in nature.

Otherwise, Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) General Secretary Azzuddin Ahmad said that the governing body and state football associations gave the LionsXII - who played in this year's Malaysian Super League (MSL), FA Cup and Malaysia Cup as the first Singaporean team in Malaysian football since 1994 - the thumbs up.

However, speaking to TODAY, Azzuddin stressed that the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) must stick to the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed last year.

"There are no hard and fast rules imposed on the LionsXII team on their age limit. But the FAS should bear in mind that the MoU also states that development (under-23s) is important when sending a team to take part in each other's league," he said.

"We understand the FAS' predicament in dealing with their National Service issue and those in the team who are affected by it. And we will have to work out an ideal solution."

Under the MoU, the Harimau Muda, effectively Malaysia's national under-23 side, competed in this year's Great Eastern-Yeo's S-League while the LionsXII played in Malaysian competitions.

The LionsXII, runners-up in the MSL and semi-finalists in the Malaysia Cup, which Kelantan won after beating the Malaysian Armed Forces 3-2 in Saturday's final - contained senior national players including defender Baihakki Khaizan and captain Shahril Ishak (both 28) and midfielder Isa Halim, 26.

Nonetheless, the LionsXII's first season in Malaysian football was generally viewed positively at the FAM's recent council meeting. 

"Fan interest in the two competitions has grown while their away matches have drawn big crowds," said Azzuddin. 

"There seems to be more excitement in the terraces and also on the field when the LionsXII play, which is good for football here and inSingapore."

The FAM Chief also revealed that match-fixing had been a top concern with the re-entry of a Singaporean side to Malaysian football.

The only blot so far was the arrest of Malaysian referee Shokri Nor and two others by Singapore's Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau in May on suspicion of attempting to fix the result of the match between the LionsXII and Sarawak. All three were later charged in court. 

Said Azzuddin: "So far things have remained under control ... we will continue to stay vigilant."

COMMENT - if both teams really wanna compete then fine but without an AFC Cup spot on offer to a foreign club winning a domestic league better for all concerned if, and fairer, if both teams look at their set ups as part of a longer term project aimed at developing players for the future. 


Bojan Celebrates Domestic Treble

KELANTAN coach Bojan Hodak today expressed his satisfaction with the success of Kelantan in completing a treble of winning three championships this season.
He said the success was mostly due to the efficiency of the Kelantan Football Association's management, besides the strong determination shown by the Red Warriors.
"I am happy because we won all the three cups and I do hope the momentum will be maintained next season," he told a press conference after the Malaysia Cup final match here yesterday.
The Red Warriors completed the treble after winning the Malaysia Cup by defeating the Armed Forces 3-2 at the Shah Alam Stadium last night.
Earlier this season, they also defended the Super League Cup for the second time, besides emerging champion of the FA Cup for the first time in 22 years after defeating Sime Darby 1-0 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil on May 19.
Commenting on last night's game, Hodak said that he is satisfied with the performance of his players who had to fight until extra time to lift the Malaysia Cup for the second time after 2010.
"I am pleased that the defence managed to stop the advance of the ATM strikers in the second half.
"Although ATM equalised at the end of the second half, I advised the players not to be easily deterred, and as a result, our team (Kelantan) won the match," he added.
Meanwhile, ATM coach B. Sathianathan said the team's failure to lift the Malaysia Cup for the first time was because luck was not on their side.
"I am proud of the performance of my players although they had to face a team with experienced players like Indra Putra Mahayuddin and Norshahrul Idlan Talaha."
The 56-year-old coach said his side's failure would not discourage him to continue to lead the squad nicknamed 'The Gladiators' to become a respected force next season.
ATM who are the Premier League champions will compete in the Super League next season.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Muang Thong's Three In Four

Muang Thong United won the Thai Premier League a few days back but hey, things move slowly in Kampung Casual these days as you may have noticed.

With one game remaining Muang Thong remain unbeaten and sit 16 points clear of Chonburi. Now unless Muang Thong go and do something daft that incurs a substantial loss of points  they are the champions for the third time in four years.

Last season they were brushed aside by the Buriram Newin Rocks PEA as they steamrollered to the TPL. In fact I always felt last season Muang Thong and the other teams kind of rolled over and allowed Newin and his merry men to tickle their tunnies for a season. Nothing else explains the appointment of Robbie Fowler as coach for the last part of the season.

Buriram, now with United as part of their name, are fourth 29 points behind the champions having lost seven games this season so far. I guess they wanted to concentrate on the AFC Champions League.

One relegation spot is up for grabs. TTM and BBCU are down while Thai Port and Chainat are in a race to avoid the drop. Chainat, who only came up last season, defeated the mysterious Wuachon 4-2 while Thai Port lost 2-1 at home to the champions last time out.

In their crucial last games Chainat are at home to Army United while Thai Port host Chonburi.

UPDATE - been advised Thai Port aleady relegated. It seems Chainat had a better head to head.


Still The Most Exciting League In The Region

The maths are, to coin a phrase Martin Tyler uses all too rarely, a piece of piss. Tampines Rovers are four points clear of nearest challengers DPMM and have just a game left, against Harimau Muda on 1 November.

The title could be theirs before then. DPMM, who won at Woodlands last night 2-1, play Hougang United this coming Wednesday at Hougang Stadium. If DPMM fail to collect any points then the Stags will be celebrating back to back titles when they run out against the Malaysians.

If DPMM can get three points at Hougang then everything will be down to the Stags final game of the season.

Tampines amazing turnaround at SAFFC on Friday night could well have been the deciding game of the season. Fazrul Nawaz had given SAFFC a 2-1 lead on 84' and it looked like the Stags were down. But they fought back with an equaliser from Benoit Croissant before Jamil Ali sparked wild celebrations among the travelling support in injury time.

Yet another exciting climax to the SLeague season but somehow the powers that be can't translate that edge of seats stuff into bums on seats and now matter how much they window dress with split leagues and fining clubs for having the temerity to finish last they are groping in the dark. They have no marketing plan to get more people interested and that is the be all and end all.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


Indonesia's Alternate Team In Low Profile Friendly Down Under

Indonesia's alternate national team are currently in Australia preparing for the ASEAN Cup next month. The other national team, the one organised by the Football Association, just returned from Vietnam where they held the 2008 ASEAN Cup winners 0-0.

You see not only does Indonesia have two national leagues run by two separate bodies but they now boast two national teams and FIFA continue to sit on their hands while the game tears itself to pieces.

Indonesia are masters of embarrassing themselves when it comes to football. Just glance back through more than six years worth of postings on this site for examples too numerous to recall. For the last two years they have held FIFA at bay with displays of brinkmanship that will have UN officials salivating.

Not being recognised by FIFA, the alternate national team will find it difficult to find any team to play. Clubs under the Australian Football Association face the prospect of sanction should they play a team that lacks any kind of official recognition.

There have been mumblings Brisbane Roar, the A League champions owned by Indonesians, would offer them a game but that is highly unlikely. The Roar owners are very active in the alternate national team, hence the choice of Brisbane, and they have gotten used to doing things their way over the years.

But Australia is a country that tends to follow rules and regulations and they may find it harder to have people bend their knee at their beck and call.

They have managed one game so far; against the mighty Queensland Christian Soccer Association and are due to play another against them next week.

Will QCSA face any penalties for playing against a team recognised by no one?

The farce surrounding Indonesian football is embarrassing and plunges to new depths of insanity eachmonth FIFA takes no action. And it is FIFA, being the world governing  body, that is ultimately to blame for the current problems here. They after all were the ones who did nothing when the last head of the FA was behind bars in direct contravention of their own statutes.

What is happening in Indonesia is embarrassing. But FIFA's inaction is much, much worse.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Mid Week Internationals

Vietnam v Indonesia 0-0
Singapore v India 2-0 (Khairil Amri, Fazrul Nawaz)
Hong Kong v Malaysia 0-3
Thailand v umm, sorry, no one. In Thailand it seems official FA policy is to not upset the Premier League with irritants like internationals.


Finish Bottom And We Fine You!

SINGAPORE - While local football is still some distance away from establishing a promotion-relegation system, the 17-year-old Great Eastern-Yeo's S-League is set to give its poorly performing teams something to fight to avoid - a five-figure penalty. 

The team that finishes last in the 13-team league next season will face a S$50,000 penalty, while the 12th-placed side will be S$30,000 poorer.

S-League Chief Executive Lim Chin told TODAY: "'Competitive' and 'interesting' were the two key words for us in deciding on the initiatives for the league next year and, while the S-League is not ready for a promotion-relegation system, we want every team to give their best.

"We hope these - stiff penalties, not just a slap on the wrist - will inspire clubs to do well." 

Without the spectre of relegation over their heads in the past, some S-League sides have faced criticism for a lack of ambition and doing the bare minimum required of a football club. But with several changes - and more money - mooted for S-League 2013, Mr Lim is hoping for a drastic change. 

"We're adopting a carrot-and-stick approach to the league next year, making it more lucrative for top teams looking to win, and installing a disincentive for the smaller clubs to finish in the bottom two spots in the table," he said. 

To date, Hougang United - known as Sengkang Punggol from 2006 till 2010 - has the ignominy of finishing in the league's bottom two in four of the last five seasons. In the same period, Woodlands Wellington and Balestier Khalsa have come in last or second-last twice each.

The S-League prize money next year will go up to S$250,000 from S$150,000 this year, with the top 11 clubs receiving a diminishing fraction of the top prize based on their league standings.

The football fraternity's reaction to this latest idea was mixed. Some called for a conventional relegation battle instead, while others saw the possibility of poorer sides going bankrupt.

"I think it's a good idea because this will give teams something to fight to avoid," said a club official who declined to be named. "We don't have relegation and, considering that it doesn't look likely that that will happen soon, this seems like a good alternative." 

But a football observer, who also declined to be named, said: "This might penalise small teams even further, increasing the gap between the rich and poor teams. Don't forget, there have been clubs in the past that have been forced out of the league because of financial problems."

In the absence of a sustainable second tier to the S-League that is needed for a relegation system to be installed, Mr Lim believes a calculated change such as this is "better for the league than just sticking to what we've had before".

"We think the quantum of the penalties is painful enough to force teams to make an effort to do well, while not big enough to force clubs to sit out the league," he added. "Having said that, we will allow clubs to make phased payments out of their subsidies in the following year."

COMMENT - bereft of ideas. Clueless about football. And what the bloody hell does 'quantum of penalties' mean? This 'strategic' plan is some piece of work eh? What do you mean you think they're making it up as they go along?

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Money Talks In Malaysia

The romantics may have fancied a LionsX11 v Selangor final. Back when Singapore competed annually in the Malaysia Cup a meeting between these two old foes was always one of the more anticipated fixtures. They clashed in the first final back in 1921 and have won the title 56 times between them, being runners up a further 34 times.

But money talks in Malaysian football and this year's final sees Kelantan, the new power from the north east of the country facing ATM, the wedged Premier League champions.

ATM drew 1-1 with LionsX11 in their semi final second leg before overcoming their Singaporean opponents on penalties while Kelantan went to Shah Alam Stadium and won 2-0, going through 3-0 on aggregate

For Kelantan it is their third final in four years. Their first, and only, success was back in 2010 when they defeated Negeri Sembilan 2-1. For ATM this will be only their third appearance in the Final. They lost in 1949 and 1966 to Selangor.


Harimau Muda Plan Home Games In Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR - Harimau Muda, the Malaysian national Under-23 team currently competing in the S-League, are likely to set up base in Johor or Malacca next season and host their home matches there, in a move that will give the league's 12 other clubs the opportunity to experience playing competitive football across the Causeway.

This new development was revealed to TODAY by Football Association of Malaysia Secretary General Azzuddin Ahmad.

According to him, the FAM and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) have agreed that Harimau Muda will play their home matches in either Malaysian state as part of the S-League's plan to widen the appeal of the tournament.

"We will lay out the costs involved and the present venues available, and hopefully we can finalise things by end of November," said Azzuddin.

"Johor Baru or Malacca are the perfect locations to host our team's home matches. JB is only, at most, an hour's drive from Singapore and, likewise, the drive to Malacca will take no more than three hours."

As part of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the football bodies of Singapore and Malaysia last year, Harimau Muda joined the S-League and are currently based at Yishun Stadium, while the FAS created the LionsXII side to take part in this year's Malaysian Super League and Malaysia Cup.

Azzuddin said basing Harimau Muda in Johor or Malacca will increase Malaysians' awareness not only of their team but also of Singapore football. He said: "It is a good move because Malaysian fans will get to see some teams from Singapore as well as the young Malaysian talent in action."

However, he also told TODAY that the present Harimau Muda team could change next year.

"We are now sending a U-23 team to the S-League but coach Ong Kim Swee has tabled a recommendation that we do not field the same team next year," he said. 

"Ong would prefer to take the team ... elsewhere, maybe Europe. His argument is that this present arrangement is not in the best interest of Malaysian football because it is a SEA Games year next year. Having the U-23 team in the S-League means exposing our SEA Games squad ... to our rivals in the region.

"I do agree with Ong that it is not to our advantage. So I will put forward his proposals to the council for a final decision."


Magelang Cup

Another pre season tournament for fans in Central Java. This time in Magelang where a home town Selection will compete against Persiba Bantul, PSS Sleman and a Surabaya Select.

The competition kicks off 19 October at the Madya Stadium in Magelang and finishes 21 October.


Solo Hosts Batik Cup

Indonesia's preparations for the AFF Cup in November gather apace. This coming week they play Vietnam in Hanoi, on Tuesday to be precise, before returning to Indonesia and going straight into the Batik Cup.

This new fangled competition kicks off next Friday and features four teams; Indonesia, Indonesia Under 23, Divisi Utama Under 23 Selection and Solo Selection.

The games for this thrilling competition will take place at Manahan Stadium in Solo. Unless it gets cancelled. Which happens. Sometimes. Here.

UPDATE - it happened though with some changes. Indonesia withdrew, not really a surprise, and were replaced by Persiba Bantul who won the thing! Persis defeated Under 23s on penalties after Andik Vermansyah missed his spot kick!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Imagine A Funeral And No One Came

Just had Mabel bending my ear over the latest nonsense to come out from the Football Association of Singapore. Now I know we do have a good titter about what goes on in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand but there are times when Singapore just leads the field it ain't fair on the rest. Changi is one example. The (lack of) promotion of football is another.

It's becoming quite the trend in many countries to have a regular season then a play off series at the end. The reason for this is simple. Play offs can generate more cash. It's a format that is used in places like Andorra, Azerbaijan, Belgium and Israel. You know, major powerhouses of football.

Mabel is fuming. And with good reason. We have only just got away from the nonsense of 12 teams playing each other three times. But after expanding the pointless, copycat League Cup now, for next season, they want to have a normal season where the 13 teams, as if an odd number is normal, play each other home and away, the top seven will play off for the SLeague while the bottom six will, umm, fight to avoid a relegation that doesn't exist.

So what we're gonna end up is the same old teams, who couldn't pull a crowd if they paraded naked with a bunch of meerkats, playing each other even more often and asking the punter, who is plainly tiring of seeing the time teams possibly six times a season, plus friendlies, to pay for the privilege.

If this is the best they can come up with to increase interest in the game then we may as well give up now.

Not Mabel though. Oh no. She has been on the phone with some of her cohorts, no names mentioned but I believe Aziz who has a roti stall near Joo Chiat is one person she has spoken to, and they are discussing a breakaway league.

Breathlessly she told  me that she envisioned the likes of Tampines, Geylang, Gombak and Woodlands joining forces with teams from Batam, Bintan, Karimun, Muar, Mersing and Ayer Hitam getting together and making their own league. Ideally she said, she would like at least two more teams to enter and is looking for possibilities.

She says there is no worries about media coverage as the game gets ignored anyway and anyway with high profile sponsors like Aziz being lined up she is sure word of mouth will soon spread.

Among her initiatives are doing away with the League Cup, introducing promotion and relegation with the National Football League, her exact words were that maybe the team that won the Superbowl could play off against the team that came last in the league and they could play the game in the US to cash in on TV rights.

She would also put a sock in the PA system at the games saying it gives her a headache and she concentrate on her jigsaw puzzle at half time.

As Mabel hung up she went off on a final expletive tirade. But to summarise she said that there was a poverty of imagination coming out of Jalan Besar and perhaps it would be for the best if they just concentrated on their day jobs and let someone else take over running football.

Mabel is just like common sense at the FA. Neither exist.

Singapore has a reputation for being innovative. But when it comes to football no one it seems can innovate. Instead they pick up a dog eared football magazine and replicate what other people do and say woo! Look at us...

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


AFC Asian Cup Draw

Group A - Jordan, Syria, Oman, Singapore
Group B - Iran, Lebanon, Kuwait, Thailand
Group C - Iraq, China, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia
Group D - Qatar, Bahrain, Yemen, Malaysia
Group E - Uzbekistan, UAE, Hong Kong, Vietnam

Looks like there won't be any South East Asian nation going to Australia in 2015 with the possible exception of Vietnam and they have no easy ride.


AFF Qualifiers

In tonight's games Brunei defeated Cambodia 3-2 sending the Cambodians home with their tails between their legs after three straight defeats.

In the other game Laos lost 3-1 to Timor Leste which means the Timorese join Myanmar on top of the group with six points while Laos and Brunei each have three points.

Monday, October 08, 2012


Singapore Announce Squad For India Friendly

Singapore have announced their squad for their upcoming friendly against India which will be played at Chua Chu Kang Stadium, home of SAFFC.

The full squad can be found by clicking here. Interestingly only two players have scored more than 10 goals for the national team and they are both 'foreign'!

Game kicks off 16 October 7.45 and ticket details as follows:

$10 adults
$2 students/senior citizens


Cambodia Look At Free December

After getting whalloped 5-1 in their opening qualifying round n Yangon, Cambodia were hoping for a change in fortunes when they met Laos in their second game. Didn't happen, losing 1-0 and almost guaranteeing they won't be lining up in the AFF Cup towards the end of the year.

Myanmar beat Timor Leste 2-1 in the other game to keep their 100% record going in the competition they are hosting.

Cambodia take on Brunei on Tuesday knowing their negative goal difference is the biggest hurdle they face to qualification. And in their final game they face an unbeaten Myanmar.

Timor Leste and Laos are sitting  behind Myanmar, both sharing second place with three points and they meet on Tuesday in what will be a pivotal game for both sides.


Kelantan Take Narrow Lead To Selangor

Kelantan, the Malaysia Super League champions, stay on target for a domestic double after they defeated Selangor 1-0 in the Malaysia Cup semi final first leg in Kota Bahru.

That leaves both semis finally poised after LionsX11 were held by Premier League side ATM 24 hours earlier.

ATM host the second leg on Thursday while Kelantan will play Selangor on the Friday for the right to play in the final.

They may not be the biggest name in Malaysian football but ATM, an army team along the lines of SAFFC and Army United, will be hoping fans turn out to support them in their semi against the pride of Singapore later in the week at Selayang.

They attracted almost 20,000 for a group game against Kelantan while a quarter final tie against holders Negeri Sembilan pulled in 14,000 but those figures will include a large number of away fans?

This interesting piece looks at ATM's efforts to pull in the punters for their semi final.


Familiar Faces Contest Singapore Cup

SAFFC have had a barren couple of years after so long dominating Singapore football but now they have the scent of glory in their nostrils. Their 1-0 win away to Gombak United meant they reached the Singapore Cup Final for the first time since 2008 when they defeated Woodlands Wellington in the Final. Mislav Karoglan netted the decisive winner 11 minutes before the end from the spot.

Their 2-0 aggregate win sets up a clash with Tampines Rovers, the first all Singapore final since SAFFC's last success. The Stags were 2-0 up against Loyola Meralco Sparks from the Philippines but were forced to wait till the end before assuring themselves of a spot in the final. Two goals from Aleksander Duric and one from Imran Sahib made it 3-0 on the night.

SAFFC have won the trophy four times (1997, 1999, 2007, 2008) while Tampines have lifted it three times (2002, 2004, 2006).

The last three finals

2011 Home United v Albirex Niigata 1-0
2010 Bangkok Glass v Tampines Rovers 1-0
2009 Geylang United v Bangkok Glass 1-0

Saturday, October 06, 2012


MP Muar Withdraw

Hearing that MP Muar have pulled out of next season's Malaysia Premier League. A shame because I was looking forward to catching a game there some time.

They will be replaced by the winners of Shahzan Muda and NS Betaria who meet today in a play o


Warriors & Stags Halfway There

I'm very disappointed that I haven't been able to give the game in Singapore the coverage I have done in recent years. Numerous factors behind that.

The Singapore Cup is half way through the semi finals. SAFFC defeated Gombak United in the first leg while Tampines Rovers beat Loyola Meralco Sparks 2-0.

The Bulls get a chance to overcome their narrow deficit when they host SAFFC tonight while the Tampines second leg is tomorrow.

Just a thought...why don't the Philippines try and enter a team in the SLeague?


That's Why They're Champions

Malaysia are keeping their national team players busy. The Under 21s will take part in Thanh Nien Cup in Vietnam which kicks off 11 October.

Harimau Muda B are off to Turkey for a month in November.

Harimau Muda of course are being kept busy in the SLeague where they seem to equipping themselves pretty well.

And the national team are preparing for a friendly in Hong Kong on 16 October.

Indonesia? The alternate national team are playing a weird friendly today against Arema/Pelita in the first half and Persegres in the second.


Persita Name Change

Persita Tangerang will be playing their Indonesia Super League games in Kuningan next season and to celebrate the fact they are looking to change their name to Persita Kuningan!

One reason given for the name change is the hope to attract local sponsors which kind of sums up the small scale thinking that permeates football here. The ISL is shown nation wide, why not try and attract big brands who have a nation wide recognition instead of targeting some local warung that flogs a decent sate?

Kuningan does already have a team but Persik play in the semi professional Division One.

It remains to be seen how many Persita fans will make the long trek to West Java for their games.


Cambodia Humbled

The ASEAN Football Federation Cup qualifiers kicked off yesterday in Yangon. Timor Leste mullared Cambodia 5-1 in the opening game while hosts Myanmar squeaked home 1-0 against Brunei.

The competition proper kicks off next month and the top two teams from the qualifiers will join the group stage hosted by Thailand and Malaysia

Wednesday, October 03, 2012


Lions Class '12 On Target To Emulate Class '94

LionsX11 managed to turn around a 2-1 deficit in their opening Malaysia Cup tie away to Pahang to win 2-0 on the night at the Jalan Besar Stadium. last night.

After their tepid 0-0 at home to Johor FC which had boos echoing round the stadium, the fans got behind the team last night in the right way as goals in each half from former Persib and Home United striker Shahril Ishak booked their passage in their debut season.

They will play ATM in the semi final after the Premier League champions defeated Negeri Sembilan 3-1 in Paroi with Marlon Alex James netting a brace.

Kelantan needed an injury time equaliser from Ghaddar to overcome plucky Felda United who were leading 2-1 on the night. Curier and Kadir had given the visitors the lead but Norfarhan pulled one back on 70' before Kelantan's white knuckle ride was ended thanks to Ghaddar's late, late show.

The team from the north east will meet Selangor in the semi after they defeated Johor FC 2-1 on the night, 5-2 on aggregate.

Many will be hoping for a Selangor v LionsX11 final recapping the old days but Kelantan are a new force in Malaysian football and they will have something to say about that.


Unbeaten Muang Thong?

Muang Thong United are determined to go through the Thai Premier League unbeaten. Which is a daft thing to say cos I'm pretty sure on the opening day of every season around the world players will be sitting in their dressing rooms blocking out the drone of the coach and imagining going through a season unbeaten just like what they do in Football Manager.

For Muang Thong though that dream took a step closer to being realised after they edged Osotspa 2-1 in their last home game in front of 12,000.

They didn't play last weekend, neither did second placed Chonburi who were on AFC Cup duty, but Buriram United weren't able to close the gap after losing 1-0 at home to BEC Tero.

At the other end of the table TTM Chiang Mai appear to be doomed and good riddance say I. OK, TTM may be one of the clubs performing week in week out in the days before Thai people discovered local football but moving location every season or two is not a good business model and anyway smoking is so 1980s.

BBCU are just above them in 17th and they are another blast from the past. Sort of. They used to be called Chula United who used to be called Chula Sinthana. Frequent name changes and merges don't seem to be doing anything for a club's credibility n'est ce pas?

The other relegation spot is occupied by Thai Port, another of the traditional clubs in Thai football. They have managed to reach three cup finals in the last three years, winning two of them and even won 4-1 away to Sriwijaya in the AFC Cup.

But cack handed management has failed to build on a good squad and they have pretty much gone tits up but the players are showing some spirit having beaten BEC Tero recently 2-1 only to follow that up with a home defeat against Samut Songkram.

Who is coming up? Well last year we saw BBCU, Wuachon, who were specially invented for the season, and Chainat come up to the TPL and none have made much of an impression.

Ratchaburi are in pole position and could make a good away trip for fans of Bangkok based teams. Big spending Suphanburi are six points behind them while Sri Racha and Bangkok United eachhave 61 points, seven behind the leaders.

Monday, October 01, 2012


Blowing The Dust Off The Boys Of '94

Me, I love cold beer and spicy Indian food. Throw in an Arsenal win and that is pretty much the perfect day. For Singaporeans the mix is different. Fans there grow up looking at 1994 as a watershed year in the history of football on the island.

The year and the players are still spoken of reverently by fans who wouldn't know a Balestier Khalsa from a Balestier Central yet recall the what they were doing Singapore won the Malaysia Cup.

Add that to Liverpool and/or Manchester United and you have the Singaporean equivalent of football porn.

Next month the Boys of '94 will team up, yet again, to play against more aging pros from the two clubs from the North West of England which will see loyalties split firmly down the middle.

Hmm, Fandi or Fowler? Abbas or May?


Kayamba Left Waiting For His Money

There may be three months left of 2012 but Keith Kayamba Gumbs has been a shoo in for the Jakarta Casual Player of the Year Award since, oh, about January. He has been a beacon of consistency with Sriwijaya since joining them five years ago, leading them to unprecedented success in that time.

For all the success they have shared though over the years when it came to say goodbye there was no thanks very much, there was not much in the way of appreciation for a model pro who performs at a level week in, week out that leaves players 20 years younger look out of condition.

As he leaves Sriwijaya of course the club treat him as they treat anyone. Shoddily. He, like so many other players in this country, is owed money. According to reports there are two months outstanding.

To  be fair to the club there has been no football for a couple of months which means of course no revenue. And did Sriwijaya receive their whack for winning the Indonesia Super League yet?

As the club themselves point out, players elsewhere are waiting seven, eight months for their money. That of course doesn't make two months right. Contracts are contracts and it is incumbent on clubs to have their finances in order so their employees aren't left waiting for their cash. A paid employee is always going to be more productive than an unpaid one.

The Indonesia Premier League promised they would do away players not getting paid for months on end but they have been guilty just as much as the ISL. Two competing leagues yet not one seems to be able to guarantee players will be paid on time.

And those charged with overseeing the game do nothing. FIFA and AFC seem quite content to allow member associations to do what they want, they won't take any action.

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