Fish Out of Water

-Sengkang Punggol FC Fans' Perspective-

Standing United in Hougang

Some of you might had read the following article from TODAY.

Talk about drastic measures to close another chapter in the long-line of name-change to the existence of the S League club based in Hougang Stadium.

Chairman Bill Ng had been the limelight of late with the issues of his deputy Winson Song taking over the reins at Woodlands Wellington yet under his tutelage as well as signaling the fact that the account books at Sengkang Punggol slowly but gradually turning black.
With the name change, moreso the identity of the club to be associated with the fans residing around the area, Mr Ng might had justified himself to set a new legacy as the perennial cellar-dwellers tried to improve in the standings in the years to come.

This also indicates that in time of financial crisis in the S League club scene with FAS already stating a cut in the budget for subsidy, the club looks to keep itself afloat, at least for the next season.

The New Identity

There was one particular forum dweller in who had been advocating for the establishment of Hougang United who at times sound very dubious.
Perhaps this particular gentleman will have his last laugh now that the club and ultimately S League committee had granted his wish; therefore he has no excuse not to support his hometown team in 2011. (After claiming to boycott the S League after Super Reds had been rejected entry in the 2010 season for Beijing Guoan talents before pledging his allegiance to Etoile FC)

Jakarta Casual had pointed out how clubs in Southeast Asia had indiscriminately tagging “United” in the club name so as to carve themselves as a footballing body, alike their counterparts in Europe, especially the British Isles.
Hougang United would make it a quarter of clubs in the 12 teams strong S League to enforce that notion and now with the dilemma of having the same acronyms as Home United FC which might be a headache of live telecast of matches on TV between both teams.
Nevertheless it still sounds better than Sengkang Punggol or Paya Lebar Kovan or whatever.

The club also decided to cast themselves off the marine mascot thing by adopting cheetahs as the new club mascot.
Dolphins proved to be too docile over the years while the incredulous season as Seahorses showed that you can’t just name yourselves from any creature you seen at Underwater World, unless you adopt more fearsome persona like mantra rays or great white sharks.
Feral mascot had also proved to be toothless in S League albeit their rank on the natural ecosystem food chain.
The Jaguars of Tanjong Pagar/Tiong Bahru had been a force to be reckon with early on but eventually subdued by financial problem while we all know how the Tigers of Balestier had only seen a resuscitation of fortunes on the pitch in the past season.
Cheetahs are fast and cerebral predators, let’s hope the new team lived up to the new persona and hope the almost similar pronunciation to “cheaters” would not bite back to them (luckily no Frederic Mendy in the books).

Changing of Personnel

There had been no news transpiring of any major changes in the backroom.
An aspiring young head coach like Aide Iskandar had displayed his ability over the course of the past one and half season in charge.
When his original plan to bank on a youthful squad turned awry, he managed to curb the rot by an astute recruitment program by bringing in a couple of experienced defenders.
With the fickle-minded nature of the local game, I hope the former national team skipper could be at least another season to allow him the good work from the backend of the previous season.

However he would be doing it without the likes of Kenji Arai and skipper Nor Azli Yusof, both of which had left for Home United.
It’s a pity that the Protectors were denied entry to next year’s AFC Cup tournament as the squad certainly bolstered including the 2 Sengkang Punggol alumni.
The only other notable departure heard so far would be long-serving goalkeeper Amos Boon who will joining Winson Song at Woodlands Wellington.
The whereabouts of the remainder of the 1st team squad remained unknown though I would assume at least 2 or 3 foreigners would be seeking greener pastures.

New recruits include former Tampines utility man Fathi Yunus, Gombak’s midfielder Fazli Jaffar, Home United’s second choice keeper Ridzuan Fatah and a player who was capped for Singapore not too long back, Syaqir Sulaiman from Balestier Khalsa.
The quartet might not be household names but can at least try to prove their worth in a rather thin squad.

2010 Season: A look back

I know I had mentioned a comprehensive write-out summary of the team’s performance for 2010 but I guess this will do.

An explosive start for the Dolphins with 2 wins and a draw in the opening 5 matches of the S League saw the team sitting pretty in mid table before the League Cup break.
A thrilling run including an awe-inspiring display over host SAFFC at Choa Chu Kang which easily was the highlight of the year saw the team swimmingly making into the final four of the league cup, against Etoile whom they nearly beaten in the S League tie 2 weeks before.
The French pulled their antics and the youthful looking Sengkang Punggol was knocked out by a slim 1-0 scoreline but managed to redeem themselves on a sweltering Sunday afternoon, beating Gombak United 2-1 with the Diallo brothers scoring.
Mamadou was the top scorer in the tournament with 4 goals in 5 matches.

Another league win against Woodlands away really got the local football fraternity sitting and paid attention but it was free fall from that point on.
By middle of the season, the team could only clinch another win (away at Young Lions) and results at home ground was appalling.
After Guinean striker Moussa Keita was “mysteriously” released due to work permit reason, three more foreign talents followed his footsteps.
Abdoulaye Diallo and Moussa’s replacement, Canadian striker Ryan Fante were made the scapegoats of the team’s poor run but their absence certainly would not be missed.
The biggest shock of all and the player I think was sorely missed was Murphy Wiredu who was leading the scoring chart in 2009 and had notched 3 goals prior to his release despite playing as a defensive midfielder the entire season.
In replacement came Kenji Arai who returned from his escapade from the beach resorts of Goa in India as well as NFL-quality players like Iranian Moshee and Korean Ahn Jae-Chul.
Kenji built a sound defense alongside another recent recruit Ratna Suffian to lift the team with a decent run  of 3 wins and 3 draws in the final stretch including a morale-boosting 2-2 draw away at title-chasing Home United.
With the fracas between Beijing & Young Lions saw them deducting 5 points each, there was a chance to overtake the Chinese team into an unprecedented 10th placing in the final game of the season.
Somehow things came short as it had been was expectations were laid on the team for the past few seasons.

Nevertheless still a record number of points attained in the Sengkang Punggol era though it could be so much better at times.
There had been intermittently good personal performances from the likes of Mamadou Diallo, Jordan Webb and even cards-collecting Shahir Hamzah but accolades had to be given to a couple of players whom to me really impressed the whole season long.

Fadhil Salim, a former Singapore international was genuinely a good goalkeeper in between the caliber of Hassan Sunny/ Sharil Jantan and those of Fajar Sarib/ Joey Sim et al.
His service was deemed surplus at Gombak United but his recruitment was warmly welcomed and he slipped in comfortably to fix a problem plaguing the team since the beginning of time: the goalkeeping.
Fadhil had singlehandedly bailed out the team the entire season and he alone accounted for at least half the points earned.

Another luminary to be mentioned is leftback Duncan Elias David.
Duncan came through the Prime League squad back in 2008 and played his fair share of S League games in attack with other contemporaries like Sobrie Mazelan and Fairoz Hasan.
While the other two at least showed an eye for attack, Duncan looked bewildered despite assuming an attacking midfielder role.
Therefore one could not fault us to raise our eyebrows to see him promoted proper into the first team in the stellar line-up including Indra Sahdan and Noh Rahman.
However Duncan sat out the entire season of 2009 without even making his mark in the Prime League squad; we all felt time was up for the 25 year-old.
Somehow coach Aide saw something in Duncan which we do not and when he started playing in the first eleven in the pre-season in an unfamiliar leftback position, little would one imagine that Duncan would become a key player for the entire 2010.
His cultured left foot and exemplary delivery from the left flank always caused oppositions’ defense problem and from his set-pieces, the team went on to clinched a few important goals. He nearly got one from the spot as well if not for the ball to hit the upright.
If only he had a bit more pace and learn to defend better, he would be a rare breed of good left back in local game sorely misses.

Final Words

The changing of the club persona perhaps is subliminal for this blog to come to its due.

There are 3 objectives of this blog:

1. Provide the latest and most accurate information concerning the club and its players.

2. Provide our point of view in terms of the performance of the team in the matches played.

3. Serve as a forum for fellow supporters of the club to drop by and share their views.

Somehow as time passes, we failed to meet the first 2 objectives.
Information passing through the club and S League on the whole is a hush-hush affair, concealed behind a veil somehow.
If there is something unsavory that the authorities do not want you to know, you will never know.
Even things like players movement or signings will only be made known until the full list was submitted for registration, by then it is nothing exclusive to be address here.
Of course we had never want to be aligning ourselves with the club nor the organization, maintaining our stance to keep ourselves out of the loop to retain our freedom to post what we truly want to address without the regular censures, therefore we definitely cannot give up the most up to date information.

At the same time, personally I am getting less and less compelled to attend live matches which could be due to a myriad of reasons which you might had known along the course of the past 2 seasons.
Therefore whatever information I posted are based on official reports from which certainly defeats any purpose of maintaining a fan blog.

It would be prevalent to be tagged “fair-weather” or ditching the game at its lowest ebb but one have to agree the doldrums local football is suffering now is running its course with the seed of this problem growing for years now.
It is always a vicious cycle in which without public appeal to support the local game, the sponsors would steer clear their path.
Without sponsors, there would be less money for the game thus less money could be spend to attract better caliber of players and thus the game became stagnated with always the same faces which the supporters grew weary of over time.

There is definitely a need for star appeal in the league.
The likes of Fandi Ahmad and V Sundramoorthy are icons who do not have any parallels in this generation.
We definitely need icons in the football scene for people to clamor about and for aspiring young footballers to look up to; I wonder if it is down to packaging or raw talent, but somehow the Football Association definitely has a part to play.

Reducing the foreign teams and keeping fixtures to a more consistent schedule (i.e. Friday-Saturday-Sunday) would certainly be welcomed though one would argue it incurs more cost as well.
Perhaps staying away the choppy production of Mediacorp and give Starhub the full rights since they did a real fantastic job covering 2009 League Cup competition which really is of a better quality.

If the authorities are resisting to alter their mindsets and people just stay away, then perhaps we could be heading towards semi-professionalism in football as it was back in the 1980s again.

Anyway enough rambling about Singapore football, I would say over the course of 2 years we had met some really nice people in the scene I want to give a shout out to.
Mr Ben Lim, Sengkang Punggol’s former chairman, had always been supportive of us back in 2009 before relinquishing his role.
Mr Ko Po Hui, a luminary in the small world of Singapore football blogging, definitely has an undying passion for the game and is affable and always willing to share information.
Mr Bryan Lim, now the Sporting Director of Trebol Sports International, who gave us an insight of the local game when we first started the blog; I hope he could really bring in some decent foreign talents to our local game in the future.

There are many other supportive and friendly fellow supporters of Sengkang Punggol and Singapore football we had met along the way but of course as of other blogs of such nature, we seems to draw criticisms and even threats for claiming that we had insinuated baseless accusations and whatnot.
There are also “spammers” who undermined the information we just want to share in our point of view.

At the end of the day, I am glad our conscience remains clear and we managed to stick to our we had set out to do from the beginning.
If our words had been too strong over the past 2 years, we do not mean to offend anyone personally.

I will still keep an eye of the progress of Hougang United in 2011 and the seasons that follow as well as trying my best to stand behind Singapore football on the whole, even though in my own passive manner.
All the best to the club and S League!


December 14, 2010 Posted by | Historical Event, Open Forum Discussion, Sengkang Punggol | 23 Comments

And so to the final game…

As the domestic season curtailed to a seemingly feisty ending for the title challenge on both league and cup affair with both Tampines and Etoile hoping to gun for it, things are the bottom very much settled with the 10th and 11th placing to be determined.

I would not be within the country to witness the game but surely a devoted crew here will be getting behind the Dolphins to overcame a rather depleted Beijing Guoan side.
Of course anything can happen in the 90 minutes and the problem with supporting Sengkang Punggol is that when the expectation gets a bit higher, they tend to fail to deliver.

Will be back to to a round up of the 2010 season for the Dolphins

November 4, 2010 Posted by | Sengkang Punggol | 15 Comments

S.League 2010 Match 32

Opponent: Tampines Rovers
Date: 23rd Oct, 1945hrs
Venue: Hougang Stadium
Final Score: 1 – 3(Kenji Arai Pen 74″ : Aliff Shafaein 4″, Aleksandar Duric 79″, 90″)

So there is no spanner thrown in the title race but a seemingly well-spurred host playing their final home match in front of a boisterous home crowd.

Kenji Arai, a player who is surely well conditioned for a title race rather than fighting for points with his current employer nearly gave the Stags a scare with the penalty innocuously awarded for a handball in the box after some scramble.
But 40 year old sage by the name of Aleks got the brace to ensure Tampines Rovers still have the final say to the outcome of the league championship when one of former employers Home United fizzles out.
Unfortunately a postponed game between Etoile and a lackluster Young Lions did not deter the French side en route to be the first foreign side to win the S League.

Anyway back to Sengkang Punggol.
A lot fo lyricals had been waxed about how things had improved over the course of 12 months and the team still had a chance for 10th placing and a 30 points finish; but the results at home base in Hougang Stadium can surely be described as less than stellar in 2010.
Let us go through the results one by one:

1-2 (loss) Balestier Khalsa
2-1 (win) Gombak United
1-3 (loss) SAFFC
0-1 (loss) Albirex (S)
0-3 (loss) Tampines Rovers
0-1 (loss) Woodlands
0-1 (loss) Albirex (S) (Singapore Cup)
0-1 (loss) SAFFC
0-1 (loss) Home United
0-2 (loss) Geylang United
2-2 (draw) Young Lions
1-0 (win) Beijing Guoan
1-3 (loss) Tampines Rovers

2 wins & a draw in 12 league matches at Hougang Stadium pushed the team in the predicament they are facing now.
If they could do as good as they had been let’s say the astro-turf of Jalan Besar, it could had been a decent end to the season.

Hope the home form can be rectified in 2011.

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Matches, S League 2010 | 9 Comments

S.League Match 31

Opponent: Young Lions
Date: 4th Oct, 1945hrs
Venue: Jalan Besar Stadium
Final Score: 0 -1(Kenji Arai 48″)
Completely unaware of this match being played due to the irregularities of the match fixtures of late with the Singapore Cup tournament and Young Lions’ recent matches postponement.

Once again whoever scheduled fixtures in the league has done brilliantly to alienate viewers again; just when the stone cold fact that we just aren’t the Top 10 league in Asia.
(Well no one in the right state of mind  is deceiving himself about the Top 10 accolade for a while now)

On the ground, they were humbled by Geylang United days before, the Dolphins bounced back with a nifty win to see them notching a record 27 points (in Sengkang Punggol era).
Perhaps in the past few seasons, Sengkang Punggol could be in 9th or 10th position now but due to the competitiveness innate in the league in the mid table region, they are still entrenched second from bottom.

With 2 games left to play (one against Tampines Rovers), 10th position in the final standings definitely look a yard too far now.
Of course Beijing with all their suspension problem could slide downhill by losing all their remaining matches including the final game of the season against Sengkang Punggol of course.

Against a weakened and well fatigued Young Lions, the Dolphins clinched the win from Kenji Arai’s second goal of the season.
The former Albirex & SAFFC man really had been a revelation for the team.
His calmness in defense coupled with his spot on instructions to his fellow defenders really beef the team up defensively.
His brace score in merely like 16 -17 games played showed the attacking facet to his game and outdid Abdoullaye Diallo who played twice as many game for us and not score once in the league.

An impressive tailend for coach Aide and his team who really outdid their predecessors (including the highly touted “all stars” class of 2009) and surely a platform to build upon for the next season.

October 5, 2010 Posted by | Matches, S League 2010 | 22 Comments

S.League 2010 Match 30

Opponent: Geylang United
Date: 29th Sep, 1930hrs
Venue: Jalan Besar Stadium
Final Score: 4 – 1(All four foreigners of Geylang scored – Mamadou Diallo 88″)
Alright, I know this is a week late but I was so tempted to leave this out of the record book. I was actually thinking Sengkang Punggol stood a chance in another televised game, but after starting strongly, it all went awfully wrong in the first half.

Against a team who failed to score like 300 minutes and shipped out 4 goals from shoddy goalkeeping and non-existent defending is a throw back to what Sengkang Punggol had been for years; which really do not give credit to the steel Aide added in the rear during the mid season.

For a goal-shy side like Geylang, they surely love to meet the Dolphins with a wonderful record of 3 wins in 3 plus 9 goals scored (around a third of their grand total of 30 in the league this year).
Kim Jae Hong is a wonderful player to have, regardless of his pacy run or delivery from the setpieces but instead we have a Korean of entirely different spectrum.

October 5, 2010 Posted by | Matches, S League 2010 | Leave a comment

Reaping the Benefits?

The verdict is out

The culpable parties of that infamous brawl at Jalan Besar had duly been punished.
And from the look of it, our own Young Lions might had instigated the whole fracas as well.

Ultimately points were docked, players were suspended and fined (some more severe than the others), and management shown remorse in the closing statement, time to let the unsavory episode laid to rest.

However with the points reduction, it makes things rather interesting in the bottom half of the table, and perhaps something Sengkang Punggol can reap benefits from.

Continue reading

September 22, 2010 Posted by | General Singapore Football, S League 2010, Sengkang Punggol | 9 Comments

S League Foreign Clubs Walk of Shame

Last evening fracas between Beijing Guo’An Talents & the Young Lions which resulted in the match being abandoned (with barely minutes to go) just adds on to the well-documented list of how the foreign clubs that were invited to our local league were more of a bane rather than benefit.

Before I begin, we must honor the only real consummate model among the ragtag crew of foreign teams since their inception back in 2003, Albirex Niigata (S).
The Jurong East-based satellite team of the J League outfit had embraced their role as an invited team with professionalism and manner second to none as compared to the other foreign sides from past & present.
Their modus operandi had always been cultivating players for the parent team back in Japan, however the squads over the years had featured seasoned professionals playing in various levels of football there as well.
Despite results not going their way for the past few seasons in the league, they still took it in their stride and channel their best for all facets of the local game, with their appearance in the semi final of the 2009 Singapore Cup as a testament.
Over the years they had given the local game with some luminaries like Kenji Arai, Issey Nakajima, Hidetoshi Wakui, Norio Takahashi, Tetsuya Okayama, Akira Takase, Hiroyuki Yamamoto, Kenji Adachihara, Taisuke Akiyoshi et al.
The White Swans had also contributed to the local Japanese community and even create a niche in the neighborhood where they are based (with a hawker store no less).

It does not take much to reciprocate what Albirex had done for the past 6 years, but the following list of clubs turned out to appear in the local media for the wrong reason somehow:

*Edited with the aftermath of the disciplinary hearing of the brawl between Beijing Guoan Talents & Young Lions

Continue reading

September 21, 2010 Posted by | General Singapore Football, Historical Event, Rant, S League | 5 Comments

S.League Match 29

Opponent: Albirex Niigata (S)
Date: 15th Sep, 1930hrs
Venue: Jalan Besar Stadium
Final Score: 0 – 1(Mitsuki Ichihara 37″)
A sore penalty miss by Mamadou Diallo (the same strike of the upright by Park Yo-Seb of Tampines last Friday) saw the Dolphins not netting a point though in truth it should be 3 the team to be aiming for.

The Japanese outfit certainly shown more hunger in the first 45 minutes and a decent delivery from the left saw Ichihara heading the winner as there had been signs of guard being letting down in the 18 yard box during setpieces.

The second half tells a whole different story as the resolute Sengkang Punggol squad of late came out of the break, showing the tenacity and eagerness to find the back of Matsushita’s goal, sadly it did not transpire even from a fortituous penalty call.
The team sorely miss the playmaker in the middle of the park to spray passes with the Korean An really looks ineffectual, as he plays a role almost replicate of Nor Azli.
The vocal fans who attended the match were also let down by the poor delivery from setpieces time and again which could prove vital.

Losing this game almost saw the quest to 9th placing to fizz out but the gaffer Aide had to psyche his side for the remaining 4 games to see whether 10th place is still within touch.

September 15, 2010 Posted by | Matches, Sengkang Punggol | 15 Comments

S.League Match 28

Opponent: Home United
Date: 6th Sep, 1945hrs
Venue: Clementi Stadium
Final Score: 2 – 2(Choi Chul Woo 52″, Shi Jiayi 63″ : Mamadou Diallo 35″, Jordan Webb 40″)

2 goals in 5 minutes of the first half surely rocked the Clementi Stadium as the Dolphins put on yet another sterling performance, days after nearly snitching a point at Choa Chu Kang.

Against lesser opponent, the halftime score might had been 3 or 4 and the game would be wrapped.
But a team of Home United caliber especially with the discipline gaffer Lee Lim Saeng instilled got the Protectors back into the fray and Shi Jiayi’s equalizer was sort of a sucker punch.
Nevertheless the team held on for a precious point unlike last season when they fell to Super Reds away and came off a similar 2 goal advantage during halftime only to self destruct to allow the Koreans steal the win.

From the report the team definitely was all gun blazing in the first half with Farizal and Sobrie playing their parts alongside the goalscorers.
Both played fleeting role in the early part of the season and was nice to see them gaining more foothold in the team especially Sobrie who was with the club for a while now.
Both Jordan and Mamadou are now touching distance to reaching double figures in goals which would be the first time someone in the marigold and skyblue hitting double digit since Farhan Farook done so in 2008.

Although conceding 4 goals against the 2 uniformed giants of the S League was not a poor statistic (considering last seasoon we had let in like 20 goals in total in 7 games against these teams), the Jerkovic’s winner and Shi’s leveler as according to coach Aide should had been avoided.
It might had seen the team dropping 4 points but not a bad effort to get one in the end.

Home United would be sore to miss the chance to soar to the summit and personally I just hope Tampines do a job against Etoile though a point in that fixture would be mighty interesting to the title race.

As for the Dolphins, no time to rest on the laurels with Woodlands stealing a win at Geylang United and the home game against Albirex is paramount if they want to climb out of the bottom two.

September 7, 2010 Posted by | Matches, S League 2010 | 1 Comment

S.League Match 27

Opponent: SAFFC
Date: 2nd Sep, 1945hrs
Venue: Choa Chu Kang Stadium
Final Score: 2 – 1(John Wilkinson 60″, Ivan Jerkovic 77″ : Jordan Webb 66″)
Facing a SAF side hungry for the 3 points, the Dolphins certainly gave the army men a good fight.
From the report, there was plenty of positive on the pitch which the lads could emulate in a much tougher tie at Clementi in a few days time.

September 3, 2010 Posted by | Matches, S League 2010 | 1 Comment