If last Saturday’s match was a hideous display of football, then yesterday’s Singapore-Thailand final of the ASEAN Football Championship was downright abysmal, and I’m not just talking about the football techniques and skills.
Well for one thing, there wasn’t much skill involved. It was dreadful. The set pieces were taken badly and I wonder why they can’t take their free and corner kicks properly (ie: a nice curving cross into the box) instead of trying out newfangled combinations destined for failure. The defence had a tendency to lapse into Rio Ferdinand’s levels of concentration and the midfield was not as commanding as Roy Keane (yes, I do miss that old bugger, Carrick may as well be invisible). The strikers lack a solid, thumping finishing and had zero vision 99 percent of the time.
The Thais were not much better. Whether it’s due to fatigue or pressure, they seemed rather fragile and were prone to collapsing and getting stretchered off, especially in the first half of the match. They were speedier than the Singapore team but lacked creativity and finishing.
But the talk of the town is, of course, the walkout staged by the Thai team after a penalty was awarded to the Singaporean team when Noh Alam Shah was seemingly brought down in the Thais’ penalty box (see the boyfriend’s photo of the supposed foul).
Referees make the worst judgement calls all in the time, it happens even in the EPL. But players do not walk off the pitch as a form of protest and neither will their coach encourage them to do so. It’s absurd, unthinkable and reeks of poor sportsmanship. Shame on you, Thailand team!
On the flip side, the match was especially enjoyable because of a group of young Indian lads sitting behind us. They were loud and obnoxious and very Singaporean in their comments. Here are some samples:
- (when the referee ignored a foul on a Singaporean player) – “What, the guy must stab him then can give yellow card is it?”
- (when the Singaporean wingers were slow to counter attack) – “Run, moron, run!”
- (when a chubby ball boy ran after a loose ball) – “Look at that, ball running after a ball.”
- (when the fans started cheering that rude Malay word) – “I love my country’s cheer. I never felt more Singaporean than now. Uniquely Singapore, man!”
- (when the officials were trying to calm the angry Thai team down after the walkout) – “Eh, how long they want to talk cock sing song ah?”
- (when the Thai team finally walked back to the pitch) – “Eh, take your tuk tuk home lah! Tom yum soup!”
I hate to think of how hostile the environment will be when the Lions pay a visit to Bangkok’s stadium. It’s going to be a pressure cooker and I hope they can handle it.