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 Kallangroar.com 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 Sleague.com 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 | Sengkang Punggol, Historical Event, Open Forum Discussion | 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

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 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

The Final Stretch

The S League has stealthily returned though in the midst of the euphoria from the Youth Olympics, not many had missed the local professional football league.

The league had been taking a battering from the local audiences who forsake the game for ages now; claiming the seasoned professionals barely even playing second fiddle to 15 year old boys.
Knowing my fellow countrymen, one can take such comments with a pinch of salt.

Anyway, the dwindling attendance continues to plague the local game as the past 4 games since Monday serve as a testament but the matter of the league champions continue to heat up.

As for second bottom placed Sengkang Punggol, unless a drastic drop of form or a miraculous run by Woodlands Wellington (who just lost to Home United at home), it could be safely said that they live another day and starve off the cellar for the 4th year running.

However the prime objective was still 8th placing and with Balestier Khalsa claiming their 9th win of the season with that 2-0 win over Young Lions, I would say 9th placing would be a safer bet though the team had to ensure they do better than the Japanese & Chinese youngsters of Albirex & Beijing respectively.

The final stretch began with a testy game at Choa Chu Kang stadium, the venue where the team brilliantly clinched a win over home team SAFFC in the League Cup in March.
Richard Bok’s Warriors are in the back of a horrendous run of result which was an unheard of 4 match losing streak.
The break might actually do them some good to compose themselves and re-instill the winning mentality.
Thursday game surely is one they would be out for blood with their injury-plagued squad finally getting their act together.
Even with old SAFFC boy Kenji Arai in our ranks, I don’t bet we can get anything there. A slender loss would be an encouraging result.

This is closely followed to a trip to Clementi against SAFFC’s arch uniformed nemesis, Home United.
The red hot team could really win with their eyes shut these days though they needed some luck at Woodlands last evening.
Sengkang Punggol’s past record against the Protectors had not been good, so another game that I would not bet on.

Entertaining fellow strugglers Albirex at home could be a decider to see who will finally finish above the other.
Albirex will have a seemingly easier late run-in with games against Young Lions, Woodlands and Beijing, so seriously a must win for the Dolphins over the White Swans.

Away games at Young Lions and Geylang United would not be a walk in the park but scrapping for a point or two would not be too hard to ask for.

Playing Tampines Rovers as their second last game of the season at home, the Stags might need the points to win their coveted first league title in 5 years.
Would not mind Sengkang Punggol proving an unwanted obstacle, of course without the expense of Etoile winning it.

Finally  the trip to Yishun Stadium where the team had some dominance over, hell even Ryan Fante scored there.
So one will expect a decent performance there if the team aren’t shrouded by injury or suspension problems.

Not the easiest run of game but to get 9th or 10th position in the final standings is still achievable, so we’ll see.

September 1, 2010 Posted by | S League 2010, Sengkang Punggol | 5 Comments

Top of the Retain List

For those who might not have read this, S League.com correspondent Paul Green caught up with Kenji Arai to delve into his sudden reappearance in the S league and what prompted him to join Sengkang Punggol.

A decent read seen here.

As a pragmatic viewer of the game, I always emphasized on the fact that numbers don’t lie and since Kenji had donned the cyan & marigold strip of Sengkang Punggol, he had assimilated comfortably to help a defense which was not exceptionally leaky but just a bit too novice.
The outcome sees the team conceding merely 10 in 10 matches including a stunning run of 1 in last 5. (It was 25 in the previous 16).

Not taking away the likes of Fadhil Salim (who had a great campaign, even more outstanding than his 2 seasons at Gombak) and other defenders like Ratna, Nor Azli et al; Kenji’s arrival bolstered the confidence of the team at the back for sure.

This was what the earnest Japanese defender had to say for signing with the perennial strugglers:

“I’m happy to be playing at Sengkang,” said the man cheerfully, “as I wanted to help Aide (Iskandar) who is a good friend and whose coaching I believe is very good.

“I am only on a six-month contract. After that I’ll just see what happens.”

The defender would not rule out staying with the Dolphins for the 2011 campaign, or playing for another S.League club if the offer was right, but is still ambitious enough to want to try his hand elsewhere overseas.

So for love of god, do retain him next season if the club want to achieve a more respectable showing (i.e. not bottom 3) and build a team with Kenji, Fadhil & Mamadou as the nucleus.
Certainly a wee bit too early to advocate for this though.

August 11, 2010 Posted by | Sengkang Punggol | 1 Comment

The Dolphins’ New Vocal Support

There had been some reports of a small vocal contingent in matches involving Sengkang Punggol of late to cheer the lads and certainly done its part to buoy the team in a recent resurgence in form.

Read on The Phenomenon’s blog about a band of diehard Manchester United fans rendering their support at Hougang Stadium in the recent home tie against Beijing Guoan Talents.

One of this Red Devils supporters made their presence felt on this blog which i felt ought to deserve a post on its own for their effort:

Hello folks! Yes, it was indeed really heartwarming to see the Dolphins show their fortitude in holding on for 2 gritty wins.

A short intro of myself: a few of my buddies and I are Manchester United fans who have decided to not just watch EPL, but to support the growth of our nation’s football as well. As such, we have decided to adopt Sengkang Punggol FC as “our” club to stand by (though I personally live in the west side! *grin*). Mainly in part due to our support for our good friend Aide Iskandar, and now by extension, the whole of SPFC.

Also, to show that supporting a team doesn’t mean that we only follow winning teams, but that we stand by our team through thick and thin. Our dream is to do our small part to help grow the fan base for Sengkang Punggol.

Hence, it is from 18th July vs Beijing Guoan that we took that step of faith, and stepped up to cheer our team on. It is not right for us to claim for ourselves the credit for the last two wins – mainly, the boys themselves fought with their hearts out for those precious 6 points, as well as Aide’s tactical genius – but I must say that it just goes to show how crucial fans’ vocal support is for our boys. It gives them the impetus to fight for the whole 90+x minutes on the field.

Hope to be able to meet you and other fellow SPFC fans on Tuesday vs Etoile @ Queenstown stadium, the same small but vocal contingent of us be there again to will the boys on for (hopefully) another shock win over the French lads.

Cheers!

– MerV

Once again coach Aide’s influence in the local game over the years continued to reap its dividends for the perennial minnows whose support rely mainly on the local residence and perhaps a few punters.

This is an encouraging act from Merv and his crew and certainly hope their continual support can boost the morale of the team who was rarely warm from the away team supporters in the stand for fixtures away from home.

July 26, 2010 Posted by | Sengkang Punggol | 25 Comments

Numbers don’t lie

All thanks to the sprightly archiver of S League records, Mr HenryO, we can see how Sengkang Punggol can match their best season back in 2003 when they were known as Marine Castle:

Assuming that the second half of the season is made-up of 16 games (from Game 18 to Game 33), Sengkang’s current standing in the 2nd half is:

P4, W0, D2, L2, F3, A8, Pts 2, GD-5

Pos: 7th in 2003
– Currently at 11th, only better than Woodlands.

Pts: 19 in 2003
– Currently at 2, need 18 more from last 12 games.

W: 5 in 2003
– Currently at 0, need 5 more from last 12 games.

L: 7 in 2003
– Currently at 2, can not afford 5 more.

GF: 36 in 2002
– Currently at 3, need 33 more from last 12 games.

GA: 25 in 2003 (3-rds era only)
– Currently at 8, can not afford 17 more.

GD: -9 in 2003 (3-rds era only)
– Currently at -5.

Things hardly look too encouraging as it is arh…

One word to epitomize it all: Remote.
Numbers just don’t lie.

July 9, 2010 Posted by | S League 2010, Sengkang Punggol | 6 Comments

The Tampines Game

Not really a pre-match review as I cannot provide you more than what the official homepage of the S League actually offers.

In the midst of Woodlands Wellington’s mauling by SAFFC, it would be a real joke if we do not climb up above them in the final standings.

July 7, 2010 Posted by | Sengkang Punggol | Leave a comment

Sengkang Punggol vs Geylang United : Pre-match

After whining about an extensive period of football play away from home, it is now the 4th game in 5 at Hougang Stadium with another fixture against Young Lions to be played there in another week’s time.

As mentioned previously, playing at home actually is a loathesome burden for the Dolphins who had earned their last 5 points from a possible 36 away from their own backyards.
They nicked 3 useful points against Monday’s opponents, Geylang United at Bedok Stadium 2 months ago.

The Eagles who had a fantastic run in the league after the 3-2 reversal with Slovakian marksman Peter Tomko grabbing a hat trick against the beleaguered Sengkang Punggol’s defense, gradully returned to their usual listless form inclusive of that 3-0 loss against Home United on Saturday.

Tomko who recently recovered from a muscle tear would be eager to regain that same goal-scoring form against the charitable Sengkang Punggol.
However I am sure it would not be as smooth sailing for the Slovakian league division 2 topscorer from 2009 with a restructured Dolphins defense anchored with Kenji Arai.

It would be 3 points for the taking for the home team to lift them out of the bottom spot on Tuesday, but they would have to grab it by the skin of their teeth.

June 20, 2010 Posted by | S League 2010, Sengkang Punggol | 11 Comments