Monday, November 23, 2015


Noh Alam Shah's 60 Second Cameo

I must admit I do like Noh Alam Shah. Such a lovely person off the field he is committed on it. So committed more than one person has suggested has suggested perhaps he should be committed.

As I started following the Singapore game he was one of the first players who made me sit up and take notice. Mainly because his name was easy to remember! Oh, and he netted seven goals against Laos for Singapore in the ASEAN Football Federation Championships back in 2007. Things like that do stick in the mind!

Then there is the other side of NAS. The side that took on a Singapore team mate in the Singapore Cup Final in the same year, an incident that saw him sidelined with a seven month suspension.

Two years later I got to see NASty side up close. Tampines were playing SAFFC (Warriors) at Tampines Stadium and NAS was sent off after lunging for the ball when it was a tad close to the keeper. From my vantage point it looked an honest attempt at going for the ball, the ref disagreed and NAS walked. Reluctanty. Sparking outrage from the home support and frantic communication between the bench and a figure sat a few rows in front of me. At one stage it looked like Tampines would walk off but sanity soon was restored and the game petered out.

Soon after NAS joined Arema, the Crazy Lions, and it seemed the perfect match. Whereas in Singapore he struggled for acceptance from a uber critical but dwindling support base who compared him unfavourably with the polite twee gentlemen who had won the Malaysia Cup back in 1994, in Malang the fans there had found a kindred spirit. He played with his heart on his shirt next to the club badge and the Arema fans loved him for it.

Even during his time in Indonesia where he also played for Persib and PSS, NAS never made any secret of the absolute admiration for the Tampines chairman Teo Hock Seng. When nobody would touch him with a barge pole there was Teo to soothe feathers, to proved sage, fatherly advise to NAS, Singaporean by birth but Bowean by temperment. When he moved to Indonesia it was with Teo's blessing and an assurance the Tampines door was always open should he want to return.

NAS is now 35 years old and there can't be many more campaigns left for him. In many other footballing countries he could probably look forward to continuing in the game either in the dug out or as a pundit but in Singapore?

Last weekend Tampines hosted Harimau Muda in their final SLeague game of the season. Theoretically they still had a chance of winning the league but they needed three points and hope Balestier Khalsa defeat DPMM.  The game also marked the end of an era with Teo stepping down straight after as chairman. Tampines struggled and fell behind after 6 minutes to Malaysia's developmental side. It wasn't a good start to the game and with DPMM rattling in goals for fun elsewhere you can see Tampines' dreams falling apart. Their season was ending with a whimper and Teo was not getting the send off he deserved from his charges.

Tosi equalised from the spot on 55 minutes but by then the writing was on the wall. DPMM were as good as champions and it can be easy to understand what was going through NAS's mind as he watched the game from the bench. The club he loved, the club he had played for more than a decade was struggling against an under 23 side from across the causeway. And the man he respected more than any other (who missed the game) was not being celebrated as perhaps he should be.

NAS came on as a sub on 87 minutes. He was red carded on 88 minutes after a challenge that left two Harimau Muda players writing in agony! It was like a scene from a western...NAS strides in to town, leaves his mark and leaves the scene...eventually. He was manhandled off the field by captain Mustafic Fahruddin and some substitutes leaving the penalty area looking like a war zone. The young Malaysian players didn't know what to make of it!

In an interesting twist to the tale, and thanks to Zheng Ming for the heads up. the ref so quick to flash the red card in this game was the same one who had done so against SAFFC. In the same goal mouth.

Football eh?

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