Thursday, July 24, 2014
Brunei Keeper Nicked For Thieving
goalkeeper for the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy football competition Mohammad Fakhrul Zulahzmi Yussof, 23, was imposed a $1,500 fine yesterday after he pleaded guilty of stealing gas cylinders.
The court document submitted by prosecuting officer Emily Goh states that Mohammad Fakhrul stole three gas cylinders from two houses on July 20.
At the first house in Kg Pancha Delima, he acted as a lookout for a friend who went into the house. Mohammad Fakhrul then went to a house in Kg Lambak Kanan later that night and stole two gas cylinders after using a metal cutter to cut open the padlock of the storage compartment. These gas cylinders were then sold off to an Indian man for $30 each at Kg Burung Pingai. During the proceedings yesterday before Magistrate Hjh Ervy Sufitriana Hj Abd Rahman, Mohammad Fakhrul told the court that he committed the offence because he desperately needed money to get his phone back.
Mohammad Fakhrul said that he had put his phone up as collateral when he borrowed money from a friend.
He said his phone would not be returned if he did not pay back the money by midnight, adding he did not want to ask the money from his parents.
“I promise not to re-offend. I have a tournament for Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy soon. If possible I would pay back for the gas cylinders. I feel very remorseful,” said Mohammad Fakhrul. He has no previous conviction on record.
No Rest For Under 19s
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (23 July 2014) – Indonesia plan to send their Under-19 team to the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy (HBT) 2014 even though the tournament is for players under the age of 21-years-old.
Indonesia were the losing finalist two years ago.
“We don’t have much information from Jakarta (ain't that the truth!) but I heard that Indonesia will be sending their national U19 team with some players from the U21 team,” said Deputy Ambassador of Indonesia to Brunei Pribadi Sutiono.
“I was told that the team is a good one and I am looking forward to the tournament. I think we are in a very challenging group but the countries in Group A are just as strong. There are a lot of good teams.”
Following the official draw this week, Indonesia have been placed in Group B against hosts Brunei, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.
Group A are Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Timor Leste and two-time champions Thailand.
“We have always competed in this tournament since the beginning in 2002. We were champions at that time and that showed how important the tournament is to us,” said the deputy ambassador.
“This is a very good tournament and a very good one for the Indonesians living here.”
Organisers have also decided to allow each country to register five over-aged players and field three at any one time.
COMMENT - I am not surprised there is not much information. What about the somewhat minor point that Indonesia U19 were down to play in a competition in Spain from 10 August? This here HBT kicks off 8 August. Are there now two U19s, have they been double booked or have they pulled out of the Valencia competition?
A Football Whine
Back in the day, I hated pre season. That lull between the end of May and early August when the new season started. I used to be on the phone almost daily to the Arsenal, 01-226-0304 back then (that was without looking!), to find out what friendlies were on the horizon.
I missed the start of the 1983 season. Unemployment didn't really allow for much in the way of an overseas jaunt following the Arsenal but I made up for it in 1984 (Germany and Netherlands) and 1986 (Ireland). I miss all that. Going to different places, bumping into lads you normally saw in different parts of the country. Over land and sea, we were there for the Arsenal.
I recall hitching round southern Ireland for a couple of friendlies, getting home and finding out we had a game scheduled at Southend. A friendly at Windsor and Eton, getting stuck in traffic outside Portsmouth.
Happy days but there was next to no coverage of them in the media. Just a hardy few who went to the games and still recall minute details 30 years on.
Cannot even compare with today. The internet and the global interest in a handful of English clubs means the coverage is 24/7 and doesn't ease up. It doesn't seem to be enough now for a team to have a cuple of pictures from a friendly in the programme. Now, we have photographers and players posting pictures non stop, there are constant updates on the website. And folks around the world are lapping it up. As I type this, people in Indonesia are forsaking their journey back to their home village to watch Manchester United play LA Galaxy in a friendly!
We have another channel that has shown friendlies featuring the likes of Hearts and Bayer Leverkusen!
And the local game? Well, a mix of the election and the fasting month means the game is in another period of hibernation with just a few low key friendlies arranged at the last minute to whet the appetite.
Did you know, for example, Sarawak are in town? A pretty big club by Malaysian standards I am sure you will agree, they were hoping to play Persib, PSIS and Persebaya. And they played? Villa 2000 and Cilegon United at a field on a military base!
The local papers are filled with tales of clubs arranging friendlies before cancelling them. Arranging then cancelling. And so on.
As ever, no one can organise anything decent because no one has the authority to actually make things happen. Juventus are coming next month but that is taking a private organisation to make it happen. No one else can guarantee security permission.
Admittedly, this is an odd year with the elections and the fasting month coinciding. But it would be nice if in future seasons we can have people sit down and try and come up with something constructive through a long break rather than the current one month of slow news days. People still want their football and as the local game constinues to do nothing, so the European teams tighten their grip.
Surely it is not beyond the wit of someone to a team like Persib going to play a couple of games in Malaysia?
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Singapore League Cup Finals
Plate Final - 24/07 Tampines Rovers v Balestier Khalsa
Cup Final - 25/07 Tanjong Pagar v DPMM
Both ties to be played at Jalan Besar Stadium.
DPMM making their third consecutive appearance in the final; they lost to Balestier Khalsa last year and defeated Geylang 2-0 the year before. They also won the Cup back in 2009. In fact, Balestiers success last year was the first time a Singapore team had won the pissant little pot since 2008 when Gombak United had won it, defeating Korean Super Reds in the final.
In fact, it does seem the local clubs don't really care too much about it judging by the finalists over the years.
2007 Woodlands v Sengkang Punggol 4-0
2008 Gombak United v KSR 2-1
2009 DPMM v SAFFC 1-1 (DPMM win on pens)
2010 Etoile v Woodlands 3-1
2011 Albirex Niigata v Hougang United 0-0 (AN win on penalties)
2012 DPMM v Geylang 2-0
2013 Balestier Khalsa v DPMM 4-0
Then we have that Plate nonsense
2012 Balestier Khalsa v Young Lions 1-0
2013 Harimau Muda v Young Lions 2-0
Coming next season, losers will compete for the Cheese Grater, the Soup Spoon and the Napkins.
ISL All Stars Squad v Juventus
I cringe even having to write all stars or selection, I really do. Anyways, here it is...
1 Kurnia Meiga Arema
2 Andritany Ardhiyasa Persija
3 Novan Setia Sasongko Semen Padang
4 Zulkifly Syukur Mitra Kukar
5 Alfin Tuasalamony Persebaya
6 Ahmad Jufriyanto Persib
7 Victor Igbonefo Arema
8 Thierry Gathussie Arema
9 Manahati Lestusen Persebaya
10 Raphael Maitimo Mitra Kukar
11 Firman Utina Persib
12 Konate Makan Persib
13 Gustavo Lopez Arema
14 Esteban Vizcarra Semen Padang
15 Ferdinand Sinaga Persib
16 Ramdani Lestaluhu Persija
17 Emmanuel Kenmogne Persebaya
18 Cristian Gonzales Arema
The coach is Stefan Hansen from Mitra Kukar and the game will be played August 6 at Bung Karno.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
LionsXII Likely To Stick Around
— The LionsXII are set to participate in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) and Malaysia Cup beyond 2015, when the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) in 2011 expires.
Under the MOU, both associations agreed to continue to have a team in each other’s league for developmental purposes, and with one season left, all indications are that the deal will be re-struck.
“We remain deeply appreciative of the opportunity to be part of the MSL, which has helped in the development of young players, provided new career options for some of our players and coaches and also given Singapore football a boost,” said FAS director of marketing and communications Gerard Wong.
The LionsXII made their MSL debut in 2012, finishing runners-up that season before winning the title last year. Although they finished eighth in the MSL this year, FAM secretary-general Hamidin Amin told TODAY the Singaporean side have added value to Malaysia’s premier domestic league competition.
“The LionsXII bring a different kind of excitement to the competition. Being a ‘foreign’ team, it generates a lot attention, which is good for the game. We must also not forget that matches between the LionsXII and the Malaysian teams will help develop the friendship and relationship between the two sets of supporters,” he said.
“I am sure that it has helped the LionsXII improve the skills of their U-23 players and those from the senior team in preparation for international competitions.”
There is a caveat though, as TODAY understands that the FAM is mulling over whether or not to subject the LionsXII to the relegation and promotion rule, and also to fix the quota of players aged under 23 and above that would be allowed in their squad. The FAM takes a lenient stance on the U-23 player rule, as it understands restrictions posed on the LionsXII by Singapore’s National Service policy.
For now, there is no clear guideline on whether the LionsXII would be subject to relegation to the second-tier Malaysian Premier League should they finish in the bottom two of the 12-team MSL.
“I am not at liberty to release the details, but obviously if Singapore is to continue to take part in the MSL, there will have to be some changes,” said Hamidin.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Malaysia Super League Average Attendances
Johor Darul Tazim 23,000 +6.9%
Pahang 21,545 +7.7%
Sarawak 16,818 +12.1%
Selangor 14,909 +10.4%
Kelantan 12,727 -15.1%
Perak 8,445 -6.1%
Terengganu 6,836 -2.3%
LionsXII 6,093 -3.2%
Sime Darby 4,082 +36%
ATM 3,818 -4.5%
PKNS 2,718 +43%
T Team 1,641 +21.5%
Season Average +13.4%
These numbers compare favourably with Indonesia and exceed those in Thailand. The biggest crowd came at the Shah Alam Stadium between Selangor and JDT which pulled in 80,000; to end with an average below 15,000 suggests Selangor struggled big time at the start of the season when they were forced to play elsewhere.
When In Rome For Indonesia U23s
Ahead of the Asian games later in the year, Indonesia's U23 squad have moved to Italy for a week's training camp.
While there, they have a number of friendlies lined up against local teams of course!
18/07 AS Roma v Indonesia U23
20/07 Lazio v Indonesia U23
23/07 Cagliari v Indonesia U23
NFL Clubs Struggle In Singapore League Cup
The ever confusing League Cup with its plate and other kitchen items has this season included two NFL teams which has done something to make the trophy slightly more interesting than normal.
Police Sports Association were the first to take the field when they took on Albirex Niigata at Jurong East. The Japanese side won 13-0 and the visiting cops ended with 10 men after Hishamudin Khairudin was red carded on 73 minutes.
Kazuya Okazaki hit a hat trick but there is no way I am writing all them names out!
The following night, it was the turn of Singapore Recreation Club. They took on Woodlands Wellington, losing 1-0 with former Gombak defender Mamadou Bah scoring just on the half hour mark.
Things improved somewhat for the cops in their second game when they scored a goal against Tanjong Pagar. Unfortunately for the NFL team, the Jaguars hit seven! It was 6-0 at half time so Police SA emerged with some credit after the break.
SRC continued to prove to be a tough nit to crack, losing 2-0 to Home United in their second game with the Protectors scoring twice in a minute. To be fair, the SRC are no mugs with experienced players like Daniel Hammond and Itimi Dickson in their ranks.
Next up Tampines take on Police SA while SRC face Balestier Khalsa in their final group stage games.
Results may not have gone their way but certainly SRC have shown there is some life in Singapore's notional second tier. I for one would like to see some kind of relegation between the SLeague and the NFL but of course the latter is really little more than a Saturday arvo kick around with your mates and making the commitment to go 'professional' may not be too popular.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Asia's World Cup Flop
- The winless World Cup showing by Asia's four
teams is a wakeup call for the region, the head of AFC said on Friday,
but the lacklustre showing has not deterred calls for extra places at
the finals from his members.
South Korea exited on Thursday after a
1-0 loss to Belgium condemned them to last place in Group H, the same
position Japan, Iran and Australia managed in their four team pools as
the region managed only a collective three points in Brazil.
was the first time since the 1990 tournament in Italy that Asia didn't
win a game at the finals, with the AFC the only Confederation competing
in Brazil not to have a representative make the last 16.
World Cup serves as a lesson to all Asian nations," Asian Football
Confederation President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said in a
"Asia must acknowledge its shortcomings, but at the same time we must believe in our own ability.
AFC is determined to unlock the full potential of Asian football, and
that can only be achieved through hard work, dedication and unwavering
support in AFC’s efforts to have equal and sustainable football
development across the continent."
Asian teams have won just 14
matches at the World Cup since Indonesia - then the Dutch East Indies -
first competed at the 1938 tournament in Italy. In comparison, South
America's six representatives in Brazil have 13 wins already in the 2014
Only six Asian sides have made it through the first
stage of a World Cup, with South Korea's fourth place at their home 2002
tournament looking a distant memory after the Brazil showing.
FIFA Vice-President Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, who has accused Sheikh
Salman of playing politics in trying to take his role at the world
governing body, believes Asia should see an increase to their
"Asia definitely deserves more spots for many reasons," the Jordanian Football head told Reuters earlier in the tournament.
thirds of the global population and footballers are from Asia, it's the
largest continent, we have 46 Members Associations and, most
importantly, Asian football has taken impressive strides towards
development. The future of football is Asia."
Those beliefs are not shared by all, though.
coach Carlos Queiroz stepped down after their campaign ended with a
defeat by Bosnia, with the former Real Madrid coach long bemoaning the
amateur set up as a hindrance to progress.
Queiroz said Asian
policy of copying European practices was also a mistake and that
training, competition and organisation in the region was wrong.
cannot copy Europe because the day you think you are close, they are
one step ahead because they also progress," the Mozambique-born coach
"But the officials persist in copying Europe and year after
year the gap is higher and higher. It is a pity because 60percent of the
money in football comes from Asia and they have the worst conditions."
Salman, who was elected last year, said he hoped that new initiatives
in the administration of the game in Asia would result in an improved
showing at the next World Cup in Russia.
"We must bring our game to the next level and there is no time to wait," he said.
will not slow down and nor will the rest of the world. We look to
enhance the overall quality of our football, from infrastructure,
commercial, competition to administration."
Juventus Ticket Prices - Indonesia
VVIP West - Rp 2,500,000 ($208)
VIP West - Rp 1,600,000
VIP East - Rp 1,000,000
Category 1 - Rp 650,000
Category 2 - Rp 350,000
Category 3 - Rp 150,000
For a comparison, check out the prices when the Arsenal
came to Jakarta in 2013.
Singapore League Cup Draw 2014
The Fixtures of the Group Stages
- Group A: Albirex Niigata (S) FC, Tanjong Pagar United FC, Police Sports Association
- Group B: Tampines Rovers FC, Geylang International FC, Warriors FC
- Group C: Home United FC, Woodlands Wellington FC, Singapore Recreation Club (SRC)
- Group D: Balestier Khalsa FC, Hougang United FC, Brunei DPMM FC
|Stage ||Day ||Date ||Time ||Home ||Away ||Venue |
|Group A ||Monday ||7 July ||8.00pm ||Tanjong Pagar United ||Albirex Niigata ||Queenstown |
|Group B ||Geylang International ||Tampines Rovers ||Bedok |
|Group C ||Tuesday ||8 July ||Woodlands Wellington ||Home United ||Woodlands |
|Group D ||Balestier Khalsa ||Hougang United ||Toa Payoh |
|Group A ||Thursday ||10 July ||Albirex Niigata ||Police SA ||Jurong East |
|Group B ||Tampines Rovers ||Warriors ||Clementi |
|Group C ||Friday ||11 July ||Home United ||S’pore Recreation Club ||Bishan |
|Group D ||Brunei DPMM ||Balestier Khalsa ||Jalan Besar |
|Group A ||Sunday ||13 July ||Tanjong Pagar United ||Police SA ||Queenstown |
|Group B ||Warriors ||Geylang International ||Choa Chu Kang |
|Group C ||Monday ||14 July ||Woodlands Wellington ||S’pore Recreation Club ||Woodlands |
|Group D ||Hougang United ||Brunei DPMM ||Hougang|
Saturday, June 21, 2014
Jakarta Casual Podcasts
Sorry not much has been added recently. I am wandering around South East Asian trying to catch some football and sometimes failing spectacularly at great cost!
Anyways, added some podcasts so if you are stuck in a traffic jam, why not check them out.
An Interview With Mustafic Fahruddin
Singapore Legend R Sasikumar
A Look Behind The Scenes at Albirex Niigata
They can all be found at the Jakarta Casual
Johor Darul Tazim Edge Closer To Title
: Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) inched closer to the Super League title with a convincing 3-0 win over Kelantan.
The Southern Tigers took command of the match from the start last night, knowing that a victory would boost their hopes of emerging champions.
JDT can secure the title by beating Sarawak in their final match in Kuching on Wednesday. If they falter, second-placed Selangor can snatch the title from them if they win today’s match against Sarawak the Shah Alam Stadium and the last match against basement side PKNS FC at home on Wednesday.
The Johor club side did not disappoint the sell-out crowd at the Larkin Stadium with Amirulhadi Zainal (26th), Mohd Nazrin Mohd Nawi (53rd) and Luciano Figueroa (88th) netting the goals.
Amirulhadi gave JDT the perfect start by latching onto a through pass from captain Safiq Rahim to put the ball beyond Kelantan goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat for the opening goal.
Kelantan-born winger Mohd Nazrin made it 2-0 for JDT in the second half when he stabbed the ball home after a goalmouth scramble.
Kelantan’s Mohd Khairul Izuan could have reduced the deficit but squandered the two chances in the 78th and 79th minutes.
Figueroa then put the game beyond Kelantan by connecting a cross from Mohd Nazrin two minutes before full time.
In another match at the Sultan Ismail Stadium in Kuala Terengganu, Armed Forces boosted their chances of beating the drop by holding hosts Terengganu to a 1-1 draw.
The Turtles took the lead through Mohd Norfahan Mohd in the 60th minute, but Forces equalised through Fabrice Noel in the 64th minute to move up a rung to ninth in the 12-team league.
Indonesia v Pakistan Ticket Prices
VIP West Stand: Rp 100.000,-
West Terrace: Rp 75.000,-
East Terrace: Rp 30.000,-
North & South Terrace: Rp 30.000,-
The game is being played at Delta Stadium in Sidoarjo 21 June
Monday, June 09, 2014
Mekong Club Championship
YANGON – Toyota, the
world’s largest carmaker will sponsor the inaugural TOYOTA Mekong Club
Championship which will be played at the Hang Day Stadium in Hanoi,
Vietnam on 31st October and 2nd November this year.
The football tournament will feature the winning teams representing Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
As the sponsor of the FIFA Club World Cup presented by TOYOTA,
the AFC Asian Cup and other local football tournaments such as the
Toyota Thai Premier League, this latest sponsorship is another show of
support for the development of football globally and in the Mekong
region by Toyota.
“We are proud to sponsor what promises to be an excellent
tournament demonstrating the unifying spirit of football, arguably the
world’s most popular sport,” said Kyoichi Tanada, Managing Officer of
Toyota Motor Corporation.
“We feel that the passion and energy of football resonates with
Toyota’s constant pursuit in innovation to bring ‘ever better’ cars to
our customers. In conjunction with the title sponsorship, we are also
launching the ‘Toyota Mekong Football Challenge’ to inspire and groom
young football talents. We are also grateful for the tremendous support
from the local football federations and associations from participating
countries to help make the tournament a success.”
Russian Footballer Left To Rot In Indonesia
Here we go again.
Have you heard of Sergei Litvinov? Nope, nor have I. He first came out to Indonesia for the IPL, remember that thing, where the league promised to change the game and honour players' contracts?
Litvinov signed for Solo FC, joined Persikab in 2012 before playing at PSLS last year.
|Litvinov (58) lining up for Solo Ksatria in 2011|
Now he is stuck. In Solo. With no money. Because PSLS refuse to honour his contract and pay him his money.
We have been here before. Solo has been here before. Remember Diego Mendieta, the Paraguayan striker who was left to go from hospital to hospital because he couldn't afford to pay for the treatment? He eventually died in Solo, all but forgotten by the world except a few fans of the local team.
Now we have this Russian lad who can't go home to see his family because he has no money and is left to sell drinks at a road side stall.
I wonder what the 'official' Indonesian players' union, known as APSI, are doing to help him? Because the union recognised by the rest of the world, APPI, are not recognised by the PSSI here. So, can we expect to hear from APSI on this matter?
More about Sergei...on You Tube
(in Indonesian) and on a local website
Persita Forced To Move Persija Clash
You can't help but feel sorry for fans of Persita. Kicked out of their Benteng Stadium by a fatwa that followed years of crowd disturbances, the team was forced to play its home games in Kuningan in 2013 which is bloody miles away.
This season saw them move to Karawang which is a bit closer but still a fair old trek for the die hard.
Now comes news their game with Persija for later this weekend has been shifted to Bantul near Yogyakarta over concerns of crowd trouble.
Persija fans tend to travel to some away games in numbers, they took something like a dozen bus loads to Sriwijaya for their game yesterday, leaving Jakarta on Friday for the 16 hour plus drive, including ferry crossing, and with Karawang being in West Java, and Persib land, officials were no doubt concerned over possible disorder.
Earlier, Persija fans had hired something like two dozen buses to take them ti Bandung for their game with Persib. Police stopped them on the highway and forced them, after a bit of a row, to return home rather than continue their journey.
Playing in Bantul is hardly likely to stop the Persija hard core but Persita will be punished by missing out in a lucrative gate take as well as home advantage.
Pahang Lift FA Cup
: Pahang staged a magnificent second-half
fightback to beat Felda United 2-1 for their second FA Cup title at the
Shah Alam Stadium.
Felda surprisingly raced ahead last night through Edward Wilson
Junior in the 22nd minute before Pahang substitute Mohd Faizol Hussain
equalised in the 79th minute. Dickson Nwakaeme struck the winner in the
Favourites Pahang struggled to gain a foothold and were outplayed by the hardworking Felda players, who chased every loose ball.
The Elephants’ central midfield pairing of Mohd Hafiz Kamal and
Azidan Sarudin were the biggest letdown as the duo looked lost and could
not create the chances for strikers Matias Conti and Dickson Nwakaeme.
Felda goalkeeper Mohd Farizal Harun was also in his element as he
kept a clean slate in the first half. Felda’s attacking trio of Indra
Putra Mahayuddin, Wilson and Zah Rahan Krangar were a threat throughout
the first half.
And it was Wilson and Indra who combined to create Felda’s goal. The
duo played a one-two at the edge of the box before the former put the
ball beyond the reach of Pahang goalkeeper Khairul Azhan.
The goal woke Pahang from their slumber but, despite their hard work,
the equaliser was hard to come by. Their best chance came from Azidan’s
diving header which hit the cross bar in the 37th minute.
Zah Rahan could have put the game beyond Pahang four minutes after
the restart but his effort from outside the box hit the upright.
Two inspired substitutions in the second half by Pahang coach Zainal
Abidin Hassan – bringing on Zesh Rehman and Faizol – paved the way for
Midfielder Faizol blasted in a screamer from outside the box after
receiving a pass from Nwakaeme to get Pahang back into the game while
Rehman set up Nwakaeme for the winner in the dying minutes.
Pahang were also FA Cup champions in 2006 when they edged Perlis 4-2
in a penalty shootout. Last night’s victory also earned them a slot in
the AFC Cup competition next season.
Sunday, June 08, 2014
Singapore's Class Of '94
50,000 Singapore fans travelled to Shah Alam Stadium for the Malaysia Cup Final in 1994. A further 1 million watched it on TV back home. Singapore won the game 4-0 against Pahang, Abbas Saad netted a hat ytick while Fandi Ahmad hit the third.
The Lions returned to Singapore and there crowds waiting for them at the airport. A further 20,000 filled the old national stadium to celebrate their success.
Talk to anyone from those days and they will compare unfavourably the current football set up with the Class of '94. The idea that 50,000 Singaporeans would even cross the road to see their team play these days seems laughable. Manchester United, yes. Liverpool, yes. But Singapore? Forget it.
What went wrong? Where have those fans gone? What level of mismanagement has caused Singaporeans to turn their back on their own game and adopt teams from thousands of miles away?
The names of '94 are etched deep in the Singapore psyche... David Lee (goalkeeper), Terry Patmanathan (sweeper), Borhan Abu Samah
(left back), Malek Awab (right back/winger), Lim Tong Hai (center back),
V. Selvaraj (midfielder), Fandi Ahmad (striker), Sundramoorthy (right
winger), Lee Man Hon (left winger), “Supersub” Steven Tan (right
winger), Nazri Nasir (midfielder), together with the foreign imports in
Abbas Saad (striker), Alistair Edwards (striker) and Jang Jung (sweeper).
Their names and their deeds live but their successors are frankly ignored or mocked. Players like Noh Alam Shah. Baihakki Khaizan, Ahmad Latief, Indra Sahdan Daud, M Ridwan are lucky to receive a fraction of the respect directed towards those who overcame Pahang. Lionel Lewis, an international keeper considered good enough for trials with Manchester City and Grasshopper Zurich, was forced to leave the game because there was no money.
Tha fans have dried up. Those who are left just want free tickets and clubs have resorted to giving away tubes of potato crisps to try and get people through the gate!
Singaporeans will get behind their national team, especially if they are in with a chance of winning something, but they have yet to feel the same emotional attachment to their club sides these days.
Singapore football has a long, proud tradition going back decades through its efforts in the Malaysia Cup. The passion for the game is there; just see the English Premier league shirts on the MRT or the buses. But you must go some to see people wearing local teams' shirts.
This is the 20th anniversary of what many people see as the pinnacle of football in Singapore. Yet what is being done to commemorate it? Where are the books, videos, t shirts or othe rmemorabilia to recall that magical day? Beyond a few whiny letters to the local papers, where is the official recognition of '94?
You cannot have a present or a future until you recognise the past and it is quite shocking that no one seems willing to step forward and recognise that team, give it the respect it deserves and, perhaps, use it as the moment Singapore decided it needed its own league.
By giving '94 a status of its own, perhaps people can then start to afford the current generation the respect it deserves. Things ain't too bad these days...2012 ASEAN Cup Champions, 2013 LionsXII won the Malaysian Super League.
On the 20th anniversary it is right to remember the past. But it is also right to look forward to the future.
Malaysia Cup 1994 video
Monday, June 02, 2014
Jakarta Casual Podcast
The latest lookback at the week in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore as well as a peek at Thai football...bit of a ramble this time but the content is there.
Check it out on Soundcloud
Kelantan Officials Upset Over Transfer Policy
A Kelantan official has lambasted
the decision by some quarters in their Super League team for dropping
foreign duo Obinna Nwaneri and Mohammed Ghaddar during the mid-season
transfer window in April.
Nwaneri was Kelantan’s pillar of strength in the centre-back position
while Ghaddar, though, selfish, was quite a lethal striker.
But Kelantan replaced them with an ineffective Hussein Alaa Magsoosi and former Ghana international Prince Tagoe.
Hussien, who was signed from Bangkok United, has failed to strengthen Kelantan’s back-line while Tagoe is injured.
Tagoe has been complaining of multiple injuries during training and
according to team officials, the local strikers are better than him.
None of the team officials wants to take the blame for signing poor
quality players. Some key members of the team were not consulted before
Nwaneri and Ghaddar were dropped.
“Hussien is nothing like Nwaneri. Tagoe has claimed he got injured
during training. The Ghana striker’s condition does not look good,” said
the KFA official yesterday.
“I was surprised when Nwaneri and Ghaddar were dropped from the squad in April.
“They were not great but at least they added depth to our game. Instead
of signing better players, the team have brought in very weak options.
“Kelantan can forget about winning titles this season.”
Tagoe was an unused substitute in Kelantan 2-2 draw with Felda United
in the FA Cup semi-final return leg in Shah Alam on Saturday. Kelantan
were ousted from the competition on away goals.
Kelantan coach George Boateng explained that Tagoe did not have the fitness to play on Saturday.
“I pick players based on fitness and their performance in training.
“Tagoe hasn’t been able to train all week due to fitness problems. He
has a slight injury. He needs to work harder and improve before I can
The coach is optimistic Kelantan will achieve their top four target in
the Super League and also pose a serious challenge in the Malaysia Cup.
Kelantan are now fifth in the league with 26 points with five matches left.
Friday, May 30, 2014
Low Crowds In Eastern Conference Of ISL
During the first of the current Indonesia Super League season, attendances in the western conference averaged a handy 10,242
1 - Persija 22,826
2 - Persib 22,149
3 - Arema 15,374
We can be sure Arema's average will have been boosted in recent weeks by large turn outs against Persija (33,000 +) and Persib (42,000 +)
In addition, Sriwijaya and Persik are regularly pulling in 10,000 plus crowds despite having pretty poor campaigns.
So far, so good. Till we look at the eastern conference.
1 - Persela 11,269
2 - Persepam MU 9,450
3 - Pusam 8,980
Now, I have a lot of time for Persela. Small town but they regularly sell out their Surajaya Stadium. But for them to be getting the largest crowds in the east is a sad indictment of clubs like Persebaya for example.
It was not that long ago Persebaya pulled in 55,000 for a game with Arema in the old IPL. Their last home game, against Persipura, was just over 1,000! Their supporters don't see Persebaya on the field despite the green shirts and the famous badge. They see Persikubar, a team parachuted in from East Kalimantan to satisfy people's personal ambitions.
So, unlike in England for example where fans upset by new owners limit their protest to the odd march or twitter outburst, Persebaya fans stay away.
PSM and Persiram have different reasons for their pitifully small average crowds of 617 and 188. PSM are playing their home games in Surabaya, far from their home city of Makassar while Persiram call Sleman, a suburb of Yogyakarta, home for this season.
But Persipura are only averaging 7,000 plus, well down on other seasons I think. What is all that about? Are the fans concentrating on the AFC Cup?
The above numbers come from the ISL's mid season review. If you wish to read the whole thing, and it is well laid out and easy to understand, then check out the Liga Indonesia
Persis And PSIS Neck And Neck In Group 4
Selected results from Divisi Utama
Deltras v PSMP 3-3 1,650
This sounds like an absolute cracker of a game...unless you are a Deltras fan! They were 3-1 up with 13 minutes to go but goals on 85 and in injury time by Alain Nebie earned the visitors a point. Deltras remain rooted to the bottom of Group 6 without a win while this was PSMP's fourth draw of the season and they sit mid table.
Persiku v Persis 2-2 5,123
Group 4 is where it is at and if you are anywhere near Semarang this Saturday I strongly suggest you get down to Jatidiri Stadium to catch the top two, PSIS and Persis in action. There have been some disappointing crowds in the top flight this season but this is likely to be a full house with a large travelling support.
Group 1 - 1 - PSPS 7 5 0 2 10-7 15
Group 2 - 1 - Persikabo 8 6 1 1 13-7 19
Group 3 - 1 - PSCS 8 4 4 0 14-7 16
Group 4 - 1 - Persis 8 5 3 0 12-6 18
Group 5 - 1 - PSBI, Persinga, Perseman each have 13 points
Group 6 - 1 - Borneo 7 5 1 1 10-5 16
Group 7 - 1 - Persewangi 7 4 2 1 6-3 14
Group 8 - 1 - Persiwa 8 5 1 2 10-5 16
7 - Gakou Amadou (Persiku)
Biggest Crowd Of The Season Sees Arema Held By Persib
Indonesia Super League
Semen Padang v Persik 3-0 (Airlangga, Nur Iskandar 2) 3,421
PSM v Perseru 2-1 (Ponaryo Astaman 2; Ali Khadaffi) 200
Arema v Persib 2-2
(Gustavo Lopez 2; Ferdinand Sinaga 2) 42,449
Biggest crowd of the season saw the home team forced to come from 2-0 down to earn a draw against a Persib team that does seem to have the hex over them. Arema have only dropped seven points all season...five have come against Persib!
Persebaya v Persipura 1-1
(Emmanuel Kenmogne; Boas Solossa) 1,234
In another time, another place, this game would have filled the Bung Tomo Stadium. Both teams are challenging for the title. Both teams play open attractive football. And both coaches have coached both teams. But it ended a draw in front of a crowd that could have fitted into, and on, one commuter train.
Persija v Persijap 4-1
(Victor Pae 2, Ivan Bosnjak, Eddie Boakay Foday; Carlos Raul Sciucatti) 16,198
Going into this game, Persija had scored just 13 goals in 12 games and obviously that situation needed remedying if they were to mount a sustained challenge for the top four places and the play offs later in the year. They bought in Foday, a man whose reward for hitting five goals in an AFC Cup tie, was to be replaced by Persipura! Mind you, Persija were only playing Persijap who have looked poor all season.
Pelita Bandung Raya v Gresik United 4-1 (David Laly 2, Nova Arianto, Wawan Febrianto; Otavio Dutra) 200
Persiram v Persela 2-0
(Mbida Messi, Steven Anderson) 1,125
Persiram always have this kind of win in their locker. Despite being slightly off the pace in recent weeks, they remain a tough nit to crack you just knew this was going to be a tough ask for a Persela side with title ambitions of their own.
Persiba Bantul v Persepam MU 0-2 (Silvio Escobar 2) 3,500
Persiba Balikpapan v Mitra Kukar 0-1
An East Kalimantan derby, there are plenty of them this season, Mitra Kukar did their own top four ambitions no harm with these narrow three points at their local rivals.
Persib v Gresik United 4-1
(Firman Utina, Makan Konate, Ferdinand Sinaga, Djibril Coulibally; Pedro Javier) 17,744
Quite a common score this week! There seems to be a mental strength about Persib this season that has perhaps been lacking in recent seasons.
Barito Putra v Persita 2-0 (Yongki Aribowo, Noor Hadi) 5.015
1 - Arema 13 10 2 1 30-8 31
2 - Persib 13 7 4 2 25-13 25
3 - Semen Padang 13 7 2 4 17-12 23
4 - Persija 13 6 4 3 17-10 22
1 - Mitra Kukar 13 8 2 3 23-9 26
2 - Persipura 13 6 7 0 20-9 25
3 - Persela 13 6 3 4 19-18 21
4 - Persebaya 12 7 3 2 24-10 21*
Deducted threepoints by FIFA
12 - Emmanuel Kenmogne (Persebaya)
8 - James Koko Lomell (Barito Putra), Ilija Spasojevic (Pusam)
7 - Gustavo Lopez (Arema), Silvio Escobar (Persepam MU), Ferdinand Sinaga (Persib)
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Travelling JDT Fans Complain Of Poor Treatment In Singapore
SINGAPORE - They came from across the Causeway to enjoy a football match.
But the 150-odd Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) supporters who travelled to
Singapore to watch their team's Malaysia Super League (MSL) match
against the LionsXII at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday, claim that
overly-stringent security officers turned their trip into a farce.
Most of them ended up watching a portion of the match on their mobile
phones outside the stadium, JDT fan Zaman Nuri Hassan, who runs the
"Luaskan Kuasa Mu Oh Johor Ku" Facebook fan page, told The New Paper
Five Malaysians - a woman and four men - were arrested before the
match for disorderly behaviour. They are out on bail and investigations
Mr Zaman said many JDT supporters were agitated when security
officials at Jalan Besar told them to stay inside their buses even after
they arrived late at the stadium.
He said the fans, who were in five buses, had left Larkin Stadium at
3pm, but were held up for almost two hours at the Woodlands Checkpoint
as their buses were inspected.
After arriving at the stadium at 7.45pm - the kick-off time - they were made to wait even longer.
"We were already late, but they still wouldn't let us get off the bus," said Mr Zaman.
"The doors of the bus were opened, but they didn't let us go anywhere. We couldn't even leave the bus to pee. There was a mixture of security officers, some in all-black attire,
some in yellow vests and some people in plainclothes taking pictures of
us. Some of us saw it as provocation. For 30 minutes, we were forced to
sit in the bus and just wait."
In response to TNP's queries, a police spokesman said: "The buses
arrived at Jalan Besar Stadium late. The arrangement was for the buses
to take turns to drive to the 'away' fan gate for alighting (and) the
away fans would then be facilitated to enter the stadium to watch the
"The fans waiting in the buses were advised not to leave the buses as
this would have caused further delay to the drop-off process. "There
was a delay that night for the fans to enter the stadium as the liaison
from the away fans were sorting out the ticket arrangements."
Mr Zaman claimed he was among the first busload of JDT fans to be allowed into the stadium.
By then, it was the 35th minute of the match, which JDT eventually won 3-2 through a controversial refereeing decision.
But that was not the end of the drama.
During the second-half, a large number of JDT fans began streaming out of their designated area at the stadium.
"At that point, we heard that three busloads of our supporters were
not allowed into the stadium despite having tickets," Mr Zaman said.
"So we decided to boycott the game as a form of protest and to show unity with our fellow JDT fans.
"All of us left the stadium, and we watched the game on our mobile phones on the Astro On The Go website."
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said the Malaysian fans
who were turned away "were not holders of tickets to the rightful and
appropriate fan seating sectors".
At this point, some supporters became unruly after being denied entry.
In one video that has been making the rounds on social media, some
fans can be seen aggressively shouting offensive words at Cisco officers
outside the stadium, with one screaming "kecut" (cowards in Malay) at
them. In the same video, another fan is heard shouting in Malay: "We
need to pee! We're hungry! Thirsty! Why are we here?" Security officers
can be seen boxing the supporters in with white rope, which incensed
them further. Mr Zaman said it made the fans feel "like animals".
"The rope was used by Cisco as part of their crowd-control plan," a police spokesman said.
"The police officers were helping to maintain order among the fans
who were walking to the stadium without any tickets while their liaison
was sorting out the tickets. The fans were advised to go back to the
buses to wait as they would not be able to enter the stadium without
It is understood that some of the JDT fans had tickets, but they were for seats outside the designated area for away supporters.
A local football fan, who declined to be named, told TNP: "This type
of strict security is a one-off. I have many friends from Malaysia who I
sit with at LionsXII games, and there's always no problem."
Referring to the away supporters who became unruly, he said: "I think
it's just a case of the JDT fans getting upset at being unable to enter
after buying tickets meant for Singaporeans."
Singapore Cancel Malaysia Friendly
SINGAPORE - The match between Singapore and Malaysia at the new
Sports Hub’s National Stadium on Aug 8 has been postponed and
rescheduled to a later date.
In a statement issued today (May 24),
Football Association of Singapore (FAS) General secretary Winston Lee
said more time was needed to prepare for the staging of the fixture (yeah, cos three or fours years just ain't enough time
that the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) had been informed.
“The initial response to the game has been very encouraging,
confirming our belief that a Singapore-Malaysia game will always be a
major crowd-puller,” he said.
“Given the high turnout expected,
and to ensure a truly memorable experience and spectacle for every
spectator, FAS has concluded that it will need more time to prepare for
This means the match between Italian Serie A champions
Juventus and a Singapore Selection on Aug 16 is set to be the first
football match to be held at the 55,000-seater National Stadium after it
is completed next month.
Friday, May 23, 2014
Singapore Cup 2014
Four foreign teams as usual will join the fun this season. From the Philippines we get Global and Loyola Meralco Sparks while Cambodia has Naga Corp and Svay Riang. Laos' Champasak make up the foreign legion though I should of course point out DPMM, Albirex Niigata and Harimau Muda are also of course pretty foreign!
For those who know their way around an abacus, you will notice there are five additional foreign teams entered...Young Lions aren't entering this year.
26/05 Tanjong Pagar v Hougang United
27/05 Woodlands Wellington v Geylang International
27/05 Warriors v Balestier Khalsa
28/05 Svay Rieng v Albirex Niigata
29/05 Harimau Muda v Tampines Rovers
30/05 Home United v Naga Corp
31/05 Global v DPMM
01/06 Loyola v Champasak
Singapore Cup Past Years Winners
1998 Tanjong Pagar United
1999 Singapore Armed Forces FC
2000 Home United
2001 Home United
2002 Tampines Rovers
2003 Home United
2004 Tampines Rovers
2005 Home United
2006 Tampines Rovers
2007 Singapore Armed Forces FC
2008 Singapore Armed Forces FC
2009 Geylang United
2010 Bangkok Glass FC
2011 Home United
2012 Singapore Armed Forces FC
2013 Home United
DPMM Suffer Rare Defeat
There is an air of confidence around Choa Chu Kang these days. The Warriors are sensing a return to the glory days that saw them dominate the SLeague for so many seasons.
Formerly known as SAFFC, I ain't writing all that down again, in their glory days they won the SLeague four straight years and won the Singapore Cup twice. An impressive haul yet you wonder why the architect of that team, Richard Bok, is not coaching another team.
But Alex Weaver, who was treated pretty shockingly last season at his last club, has quietly assembled an experienced squad and they have been quietly picking up points, tucking themselves in quite nicely behind the leading pack..which is of course DPMM.
After a recent 4-1 loss to Home United and a thrilling 3-3 draw with champions Tampines Rovers, Warriors fans may well have gone into the game with the current leaders with some feelings of trepidation. They needn't have worried.
They was to be no Arsenal style implosion, Warriors equipped themselves very well thank you and won 1-0 against Steve Kean's Brunei team. Hafiz Rahim scored the only game half way through the game and DPMM were unable to find an equaliser, slipping to only their second defeat of the season.
The three points took Warriors into second place, just four points behind the leaders.
Persipura Top Of Western Conference
Mitra Kukar enjoyed some 24 hours at the top of the table but now it is Persipura's turn after they defeated Persiba Bantul 2-0 with two goals within the first nine minutes. Just 1,117 saw the game...what is that all about? Why are Persipura fans turning their back on the team?
In yesterdays other game, Persija were held 1-1 at Gresik United, another team whose fans are staying away...just 2,150 saw this game.
When you factor in Persebaya fans boycotting their 'team', and Persiram and PSM being forced to play outside their own cities you gotta wonder just what is going on at those football clubs.
The average attendance across the ISL is still over 10,000 but there is a marked difference between the eastern and western conferences.
Former Referee Says Aceh Is A 'Jungle'
The fall out from the death of Persiraja's Akli Fairuz continues with the goalkeeper who kicked him in the stomach saying the kick was 'unavoidable' and not 'violent'. Just check out the video
and see if you agree with him or not.
Meanwhile, a former Indonesia referee has said that match officials do not enjoy doing games in the province of Aceh. Persiraja were playing PSAP, a local derby in the province, when the incident happened.
Jimmy Napitipulu said 'It’s like a jungle in Aceh. There are no rules. That’s why all referees
always refuse when they’re assigned to Aceh. Players can do whatever
The full story can be found in the Jakarta Globe
Noor Hadi Leaves Persijap
Indonesian football clubs are nothing if not brutal. It is the transfer window and clubs around the country have been ruthlessly breaking players' contracts to make way for new signings.
As mentioned previously, Osas Marvelous has signed for Semen Padang from Persiram.
No surprise that it is the clubs at the bottom of the table who have been busiest.
Bottom placed Persijap have allowed local hero Noor Hadi to leave. The striker has signed for Barito Putra and such is often the way, his first game for his new club will come against...Persijap! In has come former Persitara midfielder John Tarkpor after a spell outside of Indonesia while Carlos Raul Sciuatti has also made the move.
One of the busiest teams has been Persiba Bantul. Ezequial Gonzales and Wahyu Widjianto have returned after spells at Semen Padang while Stevie Bonisapa has made the same journey.
PSM have released Robertinho and Mario Costas, bringing in Mamadou Diallo from Persih while Gresik United have also been busy, bringing in Gustavo Chena and Pedro Javier among others to try and reinvigorate their disappointing campaign.
Meanwhile, shot shy Persija have replaced Zelimir Terkes with former Persita striker Agus Salim.
Arema Lose First Home Game Of Season
Arema lost their first home game of the season after they went down 2-1 at home to Semen Padang. New signing Osas Marvellous scored twice for the visitors while Alfarasi hit a late consolation for the home side.
In unrelated news, the attendance at the Kanjuruhan Stadium was just 4,549. Recently, when Arema hosted Persija, there were more than 33,000. They are averaging more than 15,000 for the season and took several thousand to Jakarta for an away game.
All of a sudden they stay away from a home game?!
Mind you, Wednesday was an all round day of poor attendances.
Sriwijaya defeated Persik 2-0 thanks to goals from Vendry Mofu and Syakir Sulaiman in front of just 5,723. Normally, the Palembang side attract bigger crowds but the team has not been doing so well this season so fans have been staying away.
Mitra Kukar returned to the top of the eastern conference after they beat Persepam 3-1 in front of 2,300.
In Wednesday's other game, Perseru drew 1-1 with Persiram in a Papua derby played out in front of an impressive 275 people!
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Anything Arsenal Can Do, Johor Darul Ta'zim Can Do
2-0 down away to defending champions LionsXII in the Malaysia Super League, Johor Darul Ta'zim looked to be down and out after the home team raced into a two goal lead.
Faris Ramli gave the home team the lead on 37 minutes before Zulfami Arifin made it 2-0 minutes later.
In an echo of Saturday's FA Cup final, have I mentioned Arsenal won, JDT pulled a goal back quickly through Pereya Diaz.
Luciano Figueroa levelled the scores before Diaz win the game for the visitors with 16 minutes to go.
1 - Selangor 16 10 4 2 19-11 34
2 - Pahang 16 9 2 5 29-19 29
3 - Johor Darul Ta'zim 16 8 5 3 17-9 29
Friday night sees JDT travel to Shah Alam to take on Selangor...victory for the Red Giants could well end JDT's title hopes?
Pelita Bandung Raya v Sevilla Ticket Prices
VIP - Rp 90,000
West Stand - Rp 50,000
East Stand - Rp 30,000
Behind Goals - Rp 10,000
Can't complain about them prices at all but still can't help thinking there is going to be a tiny attendance and the organisers need to get round local schools dishing out freebies.
Persebaya Thump PSM While Persib Held In Bandung Derby
Persebaya made it three wins in their last three games after they brushed aside PSM at the Bung Tomo Stadium in front of a meagre 1,300 fans.
ISL top scorer Emmanuel Kenmogne hit two to give him 11 for the season and making him the leading scorer in the league for the season. Greg Nwokolo and Lestalahu hit the others to make it 10 goals in their last three games for the Green Force.
Despite the good form on the pitch, the fans are staying away. Many of them see this Persebaya as not the real thing, instead being another club, Persikubar who were just parachuted into Surabaya.
Persib were held 2-2 by Pelita Bandung Raya at Jalak Harupat in the Bandung derby. Although perhaps it is a derby only in a geographical sense. The crowd has about half the attendance when Persib hosted Persija, a game that both teams see as their own classico
In a game of seven bookings, Persib took the lead through Tantan only for full back Wildansyah, Bandung born and bred and a former Persib player, to equalize in injury time.
Kim Jeffrey Kurniawan restored PBR's lead in the second half only for Ferdinand Sinaga to leve the scores with seven minutes to play.
The point helps neither team, Persib still nine points off first placed Arema.
In Monday's games, Persela were held to a 2-2 draw by Pusam at the Surajaya Stadium. Addison Alves had the home side 2-0 inside 23 minutes only for the visitors to pull goals back by Lerby and Naser Al Sebai.
It was the first time Persela had dropped any points at home this season.
Persijap were defeated 2-0 at home by Persita in the battle of the celler dwellers on Monday. Jalwandi and Sirvi Arfani did the damage for the visitors and the win allowed them to pull away from the relegation places.
Said it before, will say it again. Persijap are doomed and their fans obviously think so...just 1,500 turned up to see them lose their fourth home game of the season.
Persipura Drop Striker Who Hit Five Goals In A Game!
Indonesian football can be a ruthless place. Put it this way, Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger would never have lasted as long as they did here...they would have been out withing weeks of winning nothing.
Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Abou Diaby would have been released from their contracts rather than have them clog up valuable space in the physio room.
Take Persipura's Eddie Foday Boakay for example. Last week, the striker hit five goals in Persipura's 9-2 rout of Yangon United in the AFC Cup.
Now he has been dropped by the club as they juggle their squad ahead of the second half of the ISL season as well as AFC Cup commitments.
In his stead has come Argentine midfielder Robertinho.
Akil Faruz (Persiraja) RIP
Another dead footballer in Indonesia.
Persiraja striker Akil Faruz died last Friday after being kicked in the stomach by the PSAP goalkeeper during the recent Aceh derby in Banda Aceh.
It wasn't really a kick though, was it? Just watch the video
has Ismed Sofyan, the Persija full back, quoted as blaming the player's club, Periraja, for not treating him sooner.
Mind you, Ismed is also said to be chairman of the Indonesian footballers association!
Monday, May 19, 2014
South East Asian Football Wrap
Find out the latest news and results from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore on the Jakarta Casual
On this week's podcast:
- All the results from the Indonesia Super League and Divisi Utama
- More international visitors to Indonesia
- 1-0 to the Selangor
- All the results from the Malaysia Super League and Premier League
- All the results from the SLeague
- Singaporean businessman buys Valencia...how can it impact the game in his home country?
And much more including my next door neighbour banging away!
Friday, May 16, 2014
Football In Hong Kong
I think it is fair to say that when people talk about football in North East Asia, the focus will be on
the region’s powerhouses. South Korea, Japan, China. No one will mention Hong Kong. In fact,
many will be surprised to learn they even play football there, let alone have a thriving league.
But within the game, a few things have been happening up there which are making people sit up
and take notice.
Back in February, South China travelled to Singapore to take on SLeague champions Tampines
Rovers in an AFC Asian Champions League play off.
Tampines are no push overs. They are a side brimming with experience, boasting players like
Aleksander Duric, Mustafic Fahruddin and Shaiful Esah. South China won 2-1 though the home team
did end the game with nine men after having two players sent off.
For Tampines though, worse was to follow. Knocked out of the ACL they entered the AFC Cup
and their first tie came against yet another Hong Kong side...Kitchee.
For much of their history, Kitchee have been just another football club. But the last 10 years have
seen the club become possibly the glamour team of Hong Kong. They have won the First Division
in three of the last four years, finishing runners up in 2012/2013.
They have also added the FA Cup and League Cup as well as becoming regulars in the AFC Cup.
In addition, they have come up against the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea in high profile friendlies. In fact, the Arsenal game could give a pointer to the club’s ambition. The money
raised from that game is going towards the development of a youth football training centre with
Arsenal handing over a further donation.
Zesh Rehman knew all this back in 2012. That was when he made the decision to switch the
glamour of Muang Thong United in the Thai Premier League, considered by some to be the best in South
East Asia, for the apparent backwater of Hong Kong.
But Rehman, used to being a trailblazer, had done his research. He was after all the first Asian to
play in the Premier League, with Fulham, and the first Pakistan international to play in the AFC
“I made the move because I wanted to continue playing in The AFC Cup having reached the quarter
final with Muang Thong, at the time Kitchee were looking to secure an Asian foreigner for the
AFC Cup so I guess it was fate. My initial reaction was positive because I had heard a few
whispers of the projects in place there before hand so I was keen to explore the opportunity
The Thai league was booming at the time. Muang Thong and Buriram United had taken the game
to the next level thanks to ambitious owners with deep pockets and crowds were rising.
It certainly seemed an odd move for Rehman to make.
He admits there was interest from elsewhere in Thailand as well as Singapore, Iran and Kuwait but
his research was leading his gut instinct to Hong Kong.
“I spoke to a few people in the region and players/coaches who had worked their previously and
after that my mind was made up. The club had just won the league the season before and had a
superb young coach in Josep Gombau who implemented an injection of flair and skillful football
with his Spanish approach so I was looking forward to working with him.”
From talking with Zesh, you get the impression he is not the kind to rush in blindly to anything.
He has been quoted as saying his “sole purpose in trying to be a success as a professional
footballer is to inspire other Asian players to follow my lead and achieve their goals.”
He is a passionate guy with his own foundation which seeks to “to develop a social inclusion
programme in the UK delivering community based initiatives that focus on using sport as a
pathway and platform for community cohesion, integration and offer pathways into training and
citizenship programmes in marginalised communities and neighbourhoods - working across all
ethnicities and cultures.”
For him, playing in Hong Kong was one more string to his bow. To show that a young Asian kid
growing up on the streets of inner city Birmingham can achieve anything.
Rehman enthused over the way the club was run, making the point that a happy employee was a
productive employee. “Kitchee (is an) extremely professionally run outfit behind the scenes.
Salaries are paid on time every month, the import players and families are taken care of and all
the day to day matters are dealt with efficiently. The boss at Kitchee, Ken Ng and all the staff are
doing a wonderful job for the Kitchee brand and image of Hong Kong football on a regional scale.”
But while Kitchee are planning for the future with their youth training academy, another long term
import had a word for warning for young players in Hong Kong. Speaking with the Hong Kong FA
website, 30 year old Brazilian Roberto Affonso Junior, who has spent seven years with Sunray
Cave JC Sun Hei, says that he was frustrated to see the young players waste their free time
playing with their gadgets.
“Sometimes, I really want to tell the younger players to spend less time on Facebook or Play
Station and focus more on their football careers. Back in Brazil, young players will work hard on
and off the pitch to fight for their own careers or for their families. They all wanted to chase after
something bigger in life and that was why they worked so hard. Over here, there seems to be
virtually no pressure on the players to perform and little competition for places,” he said.
When Kitchee met Tampines in the second group stage game, they again ran out comfortable
winners, putting four past the Stags with no reply, ensuring their place in the group stage of the
Unbeaten after five games, the only points they have dropped came in a surprise 2-2 draw at
home to Indian side Pune.
Their former defender however thinks Kitchee will soon outgrow the AFC Cup. He cites the
cooperation going on behind the scenes with Barcelona, introduced by former coach Gombau, as
one reason for their rise.
“The Barcelona ethos, philosophy, style of play and development of players and coaches is very
evident in the current set up. The local players and coaches are improving vastly and they also get
the chance to go to Spain and get further insight. Next year Kitchee will step up a level in terms of
training facilities so it's definitely a club destined for the AFC Champions League within the
next 5 years,” he stated confidently.
For now, they are impressing in the AFC Cup, Asian club football’s second tier competition.
Kitchee host Arema on Wednesday at the Mongkok Stadium and while the Malang side can
probably count on a reasonable support from Indonesians based in Hong Kong, coach Suharno
knows his players will need to be at the top of their game if they are to return south with anything
from this game.
COMMENT - This piece was written before Kitchee finished their group stage games in the AFC Cup with the last paragraph added. It first appeared in the Jakarta Globe...it is their headline, not mine!