3-0

my heart rose from the bed this morning, hungry for success which was laid out blatantly on the table. my head, not one who relishes being left behind, made his mark with a loud explosion which turned heads in the household. sheepish he might look, he went on to glare at my heart.

“what say you, weakling?” he thundered. my heart, chewing the tuna nonchalantly, sniffed the air.

“you smell that? that’s the scent of victory! liverpool shall clobber the gunners 3-0.” and he continued munching his fruits.

“absolutely ghastly! you must be mad! look at the statistics and form book! arsenal are going to triumph 3-0! football is played with brains, not brawn!” my head roared.

“i beg to differ, my lord. football is played with hearts, not heads,” my heart ended with a sneer.

Advertisements
Published in: on Sunday, October 28, 2007 at 6:46 pm  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , ,

the first seven games

The new English football season has just started, and my beloved Liverpool are due to play Aston Villa away later in the Barclays Premier League. With several expensive new signings on board, much is expected of Rafa and his charges to deliver immediately. I’m personally quite excited by the new-look team but am keeping my fingers crossed, as usual. The past few seasons had promised much at the beginning, but ended up in disappointing fashion. Once bitten twice shy, I’m not going to be fooled by all these pre-season hype.

My head says the new players will take time to gel, and maybe they will take a season or two to finally take the title that has eluded the club since 1990. My heart, of course, will hope that the drought will end come May 2008.

And it is my personal belief that Liverpool’s first seven games will define their league season this time round. That’s 21 points – the number of points they were behind the champions last season. They had always been slow starters the last couple of seasons and in each of those seasons they finished some points off the eventual champions. Jamie Carragher had said that they could not afford to start slowly last season, and the team ended up doing exactly that.

This season, if they want to improve, they will have to start strong. It is heartening to hear that Rafa has actually set a 60-goal target for his four strikers – Torres, Crouch, Kuyt and Voronin. At least we now know that he is thinking of playing attacking football this term.

I really wish that the players will live up to expectations and push Man Utd and Chelsea all the way to the end.

Players to look out for this season: Gerrard, Torres, Babel, Mascherano, Leiva

So, the first game? Liverpool 2 Aston Villa 0.

Published in: on Saturday, August 11, 2007 at 11:57 pm  Comments (5)  
Tags: ,

greece is the word

as if to give my little girl an early birthday present, my beloved Liverpool had just beaten Chelsea 4-1 on penalties in the Champions League semi-final. ahhh…memories of 2005 come flooding back now. will celebrate my girl’s 2nd birthday on 25th this month…and will probably celebrate Liverpool’s triumph in the final at athens. savoury, savoury!

Published in: on Wednesday, May 2, 2007 at 5:32 am  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , ,

and she smiled

Congratulations, Team Singapore! Well done! Fantastic achievement! Thanks for making us proud by winning the ASEAN Cup for the third time! Now, Asia, here we come!

Accolades after accolades kept pouring in since the Lions beat Thailand 3-2 on aggregate in the football final. It’s no wonder. This is about the only tournament we have experienced reaching the top so far. I’m happy for the team. I’m happy for the coach. I’m happy for Khairul Amri. And I’m happy for Noh Alam Shah. I think the Lions have been playing what I would call ‘effective football’. Not pretty, but effective. Loads of soaking…varying degrees of high balls…good knock-ons…striking the killer blows at the right time.

However, I call for a reality check. The matter of fact is Singapore football team lacks the qualities and finesse needed to succeed at a higher level. And such elements must only be honed at a young age. Knowing how our system works, it is extremely challenging for Singapore football to be treated seriously at schools level. Education is still the utmost important part of the children’s lives (whether they like it or not). This means that no kid is able to train football full-time, unlike in other countries. The lack of full-time training speaks volume of the kind of players we have locally. Yes, we can compete. Yes, we can conquer South-East Asia. But that’s the furthest we can go, I reckon.

We don’t have to look far to prove my point. Look at the title-winning squad now. Precious, Itimi, Jiayi, Daniel and Mustafic are all foreign-imports. And all are first-team players. If we are not going to depend on our younger kids to carry the torch because they need to concentrate in a sound education, then we have to look abroad to bring in talents. The truth is painful, but must be mentioned. Our kids do not have the time and energy to be trained full-time to be our future heroes in the world of football.

As we looked back at how Singapore had won their third crown, thus sharing the same honour with Thailand for winning it thrice, one must say that they didn’t really win it convincingly. Barring the 11-0 annihilation of the pitiful Laos, Singapore drew almost all their matches against the top sides. 0-0 with Vietnam, 2-2 with Indonesia, 1-1 twice with Malaysia and 1-1 with Thailand in the final. It’s not exaggerating to say that Singapore did not really dominate their opponents in these matches. Even that 2-1 win against Thailand at the National Stadium would not have been made possible if not for the referee’s blunder. In the second leg tie in Bangkok, Singapore were struggling against a rampant Thai side. Somehow I can’t help but feel that Lady Luck was really working her wonders for Singapore in that match. In fact, I think she was smiling all the way for Singapore from the moment the first ball was kicked to the lifting of the trophy by the Singapore skipper. I think she’s still smiling. Thanks, Lady Luck!

However, I don’t want to take the credit off the Singapore players. Though some players were disappointing, most of them really worked their socks off for each other in the team. Noh Alam Shah has come of age by claiming two individual awards. He has really been THE ONE for Singapore. Mustafic’s job in midfield has been highly potent. Jiayi’s physical presence and play bear some resemblance to a certain Xabi Alonso. Khairul Amri’s speed and work rate have contributed much to the team’s success. Ridhuan’s never-say-die attitude gives his team-mates confidence. And coach Raddy must be applauded for moulding a team of fighters. Team Singapore, well done!

But this team of fighters need more than a willing spirit to go further, unless, of course, she chooses to continue to smile with them.

Published in: on Monday, February 5, 2007 at 11:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

transfer deadline

Today is the transfer deadline. Some clubs will rush into a buying frenzy and end up getting half-past-six players for exorbitant fees. Of course, some well-publicised transfer saga might end up a nought. The last I heard, my beloved Liverpool are going after Javier Mascherano. Hmm…seriously, I doubt he can survive the English League.

Hence, I have decided to take the Anfield hot seat and make my own decision in who I should bring to the club. The following players would be on my last-minute shopping list if the Dubai owners provide the financial arms. Call my list audacious or impossible or ridiculous; it is a list, I believe, that will cause much excitement among the fans.

William Gallas – The ever versatile and highly dependable defender who has the knack of scoring against Liverpool. His positioning and reading of the game is among the best in the business. His competitive nature will give him an edge over opposing attackers. He can cover Finnan on the right, Riise on the left or partner Carragher in the centre of defence. Arsenal might not release him. But with the cash dangling like carrots, they could let him go. Gallas himself will move because he wants yet another new challenge in his career.

Kevin Nolan – Forget Mascherano. Nolan’s dare-devil spirits put him miles ahead. What’s more…he’s a Liverpool fan. His robust play and powerful drive forward resembles a certain Gerrard. Though he might not be in the same class as the latter, he could provide competition in the holding midfield role currently rotated between Alonso and Momo. After all these years of being in a nearly-continental club in Bolton, Nolan would perhaps jump at this chance of playing Champions League football with the Reds. Bolton? The cash from the Middle East might be too much to resist.

Matthew Taylor – If you look at the current Liverpool squad, we have a number of left wingers. However, I never really think that they are good enough to cause havoc. Riise should stay at left-back; Garcia’s inconsistency outnumbers his moments of brilliance; Gonzalez is actually not as fast as what all the hype had pointed; Kewell’s injury problems could force him out of the game; and Zenden? We need new blood on the left. Look no further than Matt Taylor who had already scored a couple of stunning goals this season. Some people are saying he could be the solution to England’s left midfield problem. And I have to say, “Amen!” to that. This fellow is a fighter who is quite skilful actually. He may not be very fast, but he can certainly cause problems in the opposition defence with his skills. The south coast club have to admit that after all these years with them, Taylor’s time to move on is now.

Robbie Keane – Once the most expensive teenager, Keane’s career has nosedived somewhat a little. From a sensational move to Inter to a miserable spell at Leeds, Keane’s ability to sparkle a moment of magic in a match was often underestimated, underutilized and under wraps. Even now at Spurs, he’s not the first choice. Well, Liverpool could use him with Crouch as one pair of strikers (Kuyt and Bellamy being the other). Keane’s skills are never in question and he really does know where the goal is. He needs to be playing competitively and consistently to start striking fear into the hearts of defences. He will not mind moving to Merseyside to get regular playtime and Spurs sure do not treat him serious enough to want to keep him. So, what are we waiting for?

Shaun Wright-Phillips – Liverpool need another quality right winger to compete with Pennant. I look around the League and I must say that I have to choose Wright-Phillips because of two reasons. First, he can be a real threat when he’s given regular football. Second, I cast a pity vote for him. He’s not gonna be cheap because Roman wants his money back. But with Dubai as our backing, I say let’s go for him.

You would notice by now that these are all Premiership players. The fact is only players who start the careers at the Premiership can survive the Premiership. Don’t think of bringing in players from overseas. Very few of them succeed. Ask Andriy to verify my statement. And as a Reds fan, I really fancy the above-mentioned players to contribute much to the future success of Liverpool Football Club. We just need the Dubai cash and my wisdom to bring them in. Rafa, are you listening? The rest of you, what say you?

(PS: By the way, I take Singapore and Thailand to draw 1-1.)

Published in: on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 4:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

the kallang roar

The Kallang Roar!

It was back! It was back to push the Lions to a hard-fought win over our northern neighbours.

And yes! I remember those good old days!

I had been to the National Stadium several times to support the Lions during the Malaysia Cup days. Each time, I thoroughly enjoyed the occasion. The atmosphere was electrifying with the Kallang Roar – the fans stomping their feet, the vulgarities and insults directed at the referees, the goal celebrations we shared with one another and the passion for football. It had also always been pleasing to know that whenever I was present at the stadium, the Lions never lost a game. I can only remember the 8-1 demolition of Brunei and a certain 1-1 draw between our Singapore ‘Dream Team’ and arch rivals Selangor; and there were a 3-0, a 7-0, etc. Putting such scores aside, it is no exaggeration to say that the Kallang Roar could actually bring the whole nation together.

If I want to witness national togetherness at a grand scale, the Kallang Roar is the answer. I would rather spend my time watching football with fellow Singaporeans at the National Stadium than participate at the National Day Parade. The truth is I felt a strong sense of patriotism whenever I watched football with fellow fans supporting the Lions. If there were a Singapore goal, we would jump for joy together, embracing each other regardless of race and religion and gender and age. The bond amongst the Singapore fans was always amazing. It was like we all had known each other for years. We could talk, cheer and jeer together. I could see these clearly all the time. If the referee made the wrong decision, we would echo one another when we hurl insults at the referee, “REFEREE KAYU!!!” All these elements of the Kallang Roar were never present when I was at the stadium watching the National Day Parade. I believe such spirits could never be seen at the NDP.

It’s a pity that we are not going to see such scenes anymore soon. Probably for most Singapore fans, Wednesday’s 1st leg tie with Thailand will be the last chance to savour and relive this national togetherness. The Kallang Roar will probably make its last presence felt on that day. I will not be there. But I believe all those who, like me, had wonderful memories of Kallang and the national togetherness will seek to bring out the Kallang Roar in us wherever we are on that day. May this roar inspire the Lions to a memorable victory over the Thais.

Hail the Kallang Roar!

Published in: on Monday, January 29, 2007 at 11:01 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: ,

the crazy world of football

Liverpool take on Chelsea at Anfield today, and I can’t believe that many people are backing the home team to win against the defending champions. As a Reds fan for the last donkey years, I know too well that expectations had been turned into disappointments far too often in the last decade. This season alone, this trend had happened a few times. Just when you expected Liverpool to ride on their good form and continue their streak, they would come crashing down with a disastrous defeat. Think 3-0 to Everton, 2-0 to Bolton, 1-0 to Blackburn and the back-to-back disgrace to Arsenal.

Yes, my beloved Liverpool are the best form team in the League. Yes, they are unbeaten at home in the League. Yes, they have conceded one solitary goal at home in the League. Everything seems to point to a Liverpool win. Now, here’s the predictable danger. When you expect them to win, they go on to lose. Let’s not forget that Rafa has yet to win any League games against Chelsea (and Man U and Arsenal for that matter). So, even though my heart says Liverpool will win, my head says Chelsea will win by two.

Then, there is this Lucas Neill. Who does he think he is? A top-notch player? I was already quite shocked to hear Rafa’s interest in him. To me, he could be a waste of money. Yet, he dared to reject Liverpool over West Ham so that he could take home £50,000 every week! What a total absurdity! In my living memory, only a world class (or continental class at least) player could demand such a fee. Neill is only, at best, an average player. This is really nuts!

Who could ever forget West Ham’s sensational signing of the two promising Argentineans, Tevez and Mascherano? What on Earth were they thinking when they signed for the Hammers? Joining a world class team? As we all know by now, Pardew was given the boot and West Ham are seriously in trouble of getting relegated. If nothing goes right for them this season, this is going to be one of the most glaring bloopers that ever happen to a top-flight team and two so-called world class talents. What a joke! (Mind me; Rafa’s trying to sign Mascherano. I shudder…)

Of course, there is this someone called D Beckham who has just signed for an MLS team after being left out in the cold during the entire Ice Age. The probably henpecked football celebrity, deemed to be past his prime, will actually be paid a staggering £500,000 per week! What are the bosses of LA Galaxy thinking? Publicity? Fame? The desire to win the League? Or the wishful thinking of dominating world football (or soccer they call it)? Not even Ronaldinho would dare ask Barcelona for such a pay cheque. He would probably be too embarrassed to even think about it.

Really, this funny thing called football? It can be quite crazy at times (perhaps, most of the time in future).

Published in: on Saturday, January 20, 2007 at 4:38 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,

win again? doesn’t matter…

Singapore football team crushed Laos 11-0 in the ASEAN Championship, much to the delight of those supporters who still faithfully back their national team even after a spate of dismal results recently. Congratulations to the boys! As long as I have lived on Earth, I’ve never seen Singapore winning by such a big margin in an international tournament. But honestly speaking, I’m not really totally bothered, and I don’t think they will win the tournament for the third time.

Yes, they are the defending champions. Yes, Noh Alam Shah scored 7 goals. Yes, they might still beat Indonesia to top the group. But no, I don’t think they can overcome Thailand. As a matter of fact, Laos were a poor, poor team. Their coach had already thrown in the towel before the match by declaring Singapore a much stronger team. He even predicted goals galore. He also highlighted the fact that his team are made up of students who treat soccer as a leisure activity. This mentality probably had an effect on the players even before the ball was kicked. They knew they would lose big. Their hearts and minds and souls and strengths were not present even before the game commenced. All Singapore had to do was to take advantage of the situation, and the Lions were rather ruthless at that.

They attacked with confidence, passed the ball well and scored some good goals. Credit must be given to the Singapore team for working hard to slaughter their opponents. But really, Laos also put in effort in making the hosts look good. Let’s not get carried away and think that Singapore are going to win the tournament again. Indonesia might still surprise if the Lions are not careful. And don’t forget that Singapore struggled a bit against Vietnam in their first match.

However, I do think that if Singapore play to their strengths, they are good enough for the final. And that’s where they will probably be stopped in their tracks by Thailand.

My head says Thailand, and you would expect me to say my heart says Singapore. No, my heart says it doesn’t matter at all.

Published in: on Monday, January 15, 2007 at 11:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

possession vs clinical finishing

After all these years of watching and playing football, I have to admit that possession in football does not equate to winning matches. Clinical finishing has always been the key to winning matches. Any fool can tell you this too. So why is it that some footballing brains are not ticking? Footballers and coaches alike, some of them are guilty of this. Don’t strive to keep possession of the ball, but excel at clinical finishing. This is what I would tell my players if I’m a coach. Am I right? Possibly. Probably.

Let’s recall the match between Liverpool and Arsenal. Amount of possession Liverpool had was 62%. Arsenal only had 38%. The Reds had 16 shots, while the visitors had 5 only. Final score? Liverpool 1 Arsenal 3. The same story happened at Ewood Park last month when Liverpool lost 1-0 after dominating the game in terms of possession. Come on, Guys! You have to be clinical in your finishing! What matters most in football is scoring goals, isn’t it?

Liverpool, for all their credentials as traditional powerhouses, are seriously lacking in the department of scoring. There have been times when they were made to look good, like their 4-0 win at Wigan. But honestly speaking, they are simply not good enough at the moment. They have got several strikers, but none can score consistently. The same can be said of their midfielders. Gerrard has not been the scoring phenomenon of last season. Their defenders? Carragher just scored his first in 7 years! If they struggle for periods to score in a match, I cannot find one inspirational player who can pop out to score at will.

Maybe, they must seriously scout for one clinical striker. Maybe, give Kuyt some more time and he will be one. Maybe, someone from the youth setup could be the clinical one. Maybe, the training sessions should focus on scoring goals. Maybe, I can be their coach……Maybe……

I think I’ve said enough. As a Liverpool fan, I wish them all the best in……scoring goals.

It’s never the amount of possession that counts…count the goals, Folks!

Published in: on Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 6:19 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: ,

25.05.2005

This is one date that I will definitely remember very well for the rest of my life.

In the wee hours that morning, Jennifer’s water bag broke. Time to rush to Thomson Medical Centre. We were excited, anxious yet calm about it. in the lift…on the way to our car… I drove her safely to our destination. She was escorted up while I went through the paper work.

In the delivery room, she went through waves after waves of contraction. I was by her side, feeling rather useless. All I could do was to comfort her. Seconds turned to minutes which turned to hours. To me it was a long wait. But I think to her it was eternity. Her pain was intense even with the mask over her.

Then the time had to come. Lawrence ambled in. In less than half an hour, the baby was delivered. Time was 7.38 a.m. My little Faith was there in front of me.

fresh from womb

By evening, all were taken care of. I was busy taking pictures of the baby. Jennifer looked weary, but she was relieved and happy. I told her I would come early next morning.

sleeping well

on my lap

eyes open

Back home, I turned in early, not because I was really tired. I wanted to have ample sleep before waking up at 3 to watch the Champions League final between my beloved Liverpool and Milan. I slept well, probably because of the joy of being a father.

In fact, I slept too well. When I woke up, the match had gone into half-time. When I saw the highlights of the first half, I could not believe my eyes. Liverpool 0 Milan 3! Lost, gone, dead and buried. I shut my eyes, hoping that I could continue my sweet dreams and forget the heart-breaking scoreline.

Rotten luck! I woke up suddenly to witness the first 5 minutes of the second half. Never mind, I should continue to watch the game for entertainment sake. And since I called myself a loyal Liverpool supporter, I must as well…

Then, the incredible happened (something which the whole world of football would know by now). My dearest Liverpool fought back and scored three goals by the 90th minute. The rest……hit the post……Riise missed……Dudek wobbled……Shevchenko missed……Gerrard lifted the cup!

gerrard felled

alonso scored

great save!

run…celebrate…

Liverpool, winners Champions League 2005

On the day when Faith was brought to Earth by her sensational parents, Milan was brought down to Earth by a sensational Liverpool FC.

How can I forget this day?

(Ps: one disappointment though: Bo Bice lost the American Idol final.)

Published in: on Tuesday, January 2, 2007 at 10:48 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , ,