Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Four Points For Singapore Away Days

Football is the most fragile of mistresses. Your team plays badly or loses and feet are stamped, doors slammed and fingers are stuck in ears to display a primitive anger. You have been let down, you are hurt and you need people to show you are hurt; even the least narcissistic have been known to fold their arms, knot their eyebrows and say 'humph' after a loss. Or you get pissed.

But win? Oh boy, you can't wait to rip off the clothes, let it all hang and have a quick romp in the hay or on the kitchen table. You need to share that victory with a release of emotion, something that can make the feeling last just a bit longer. Or you get pissed.

Not that long ago, in fact just a few days back, the Singapore football fraternity, except Mabel who was sick, was beating its collective chest and wailing at how shit life was...the cause for this mass outpouring of grief being their exit from the SEA Games, a competition for Under 23s. It seems many expected the Young Lions to win the bloody thing 'cos they were hosting the bloody thing or because the players had been on stints overseas.

Meanwhile the proper national team was in Cambodia defeating the hosts 4-0 in front of a partisan 63,000 crowd. Impressive stuff but mostly overlooked 'cos of the perceived national humiliation closer to home.

Singapore then set off to play Japan. Another big crowd, 57,000 +++, another clean sheet and whaddayaknow? Singapore, them coached by Bernd Stang who has been on the end of calls for him to step down, were top of their group and had four points in the bag.

SINGAPORE 2 1 1 0 4 0 4 4
SYRIA 1 1 0 0 6 0 6 3
AFGHANISTAN 2 1 0 1 1 6 -5 3
JAPAN 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
CAMBODIA 2 0 0 2 0 5 -5 0

Now obviously this is early days in the World Cup/Asian Cup Qualification but to have four points in the bag from two away games? That ain't a bad start. Not bad at all.

To the glory keeper Izwan Mahbud, once of the much derided Young Lions! In fact much of the squad that travelled to Cambodia and Japan came up through the ranks of the Young Lions, a developmental side competing in the SLeague. A tad harsh then, perhaps, for some to call the Young Lions rubbish 'cos they failed to get out of the group stage at the SEA Games?

Syria will obviously be a threat and Singapore face them in October in Oman. Traditionally South East Asian nations have struggled when playing in the Middle East and Stang will have his work cut out for this one but perhaps the small crowd that could be anticipated could work to his, and his team's, advantage.

For now Singapore can bask in the glory of being number one in the group for at least a couple of months. There is still a long way between now and then and for the Singapore players, from playing in front of crowds of 63,000 and 57,000 they can look forward to the glamour of the Singapore League Cup where fans tend to stay home.

Lions All The Way. Eh?

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