Journey To Malaysia (AFC Cup 2017)

We left for Malaysia the early afternoon of 17 April, and have arrived safely.

Two flights followed by a nearly two hour bus journey from the airport to hotel, we had dinner late, around 9:30pm.

Watch our journey to Kuantan, Malaysia below, which includes short, fun interviews with four of our players. Oh, one of our boys took the camera and filmed too.

Journey To Kuantan, Malaysia:

Megu and Son Don’t Hold Back

We had two of our players, Megu and Son, interview each other after training on Friday.

Neither of them held back with the questions they asked each other, and the great friendship the both of them have is evident in this video.

Have you ever wondered whether Megu has a girlfriend or does Son prefer football in Korea, Philippines or Singapore? Find out all this and more by watching their funny interview.

Oh, they ended up singing and dancing.

Watch The Video Now:

The Game Changers

By Greenrover

Tampines Rovers’ Chairman, Krishna Ramachandra, featured prominently in Thursday night’s Election Manifesto presentation at the Fullerton Bay Hotel’s Clifford Pier, before an assembly of enthralled media and invited guests.

Krishna, a vice-presidential candidate in Hougang United chairman Bill Ng’s Game Changers team, was keen to share his views on what needs changing in Singapore football in order to take the game forward, after so many years of moribund activity.

While the Game Changers’ leader, Bill Ng, spoke passionately and with evidently strong views, most of the others, Krishna included, had plenty to say too.

The event was a lavish one, with a sumptuous buffet laid on for guests and media, accompanied by a free-flow of drinks and with no expense spared.

Host for the evening was the genial Steven Tan, who had the task of managing the Game Changers’ Powerpoint presentation and keeping the fired-up speakers in check.

Everyone on the Game Changers’ nine-strong team was out front facing the assembled 150 gathered at the waterside venue.

Bill Ng began the proceedings, outlining the key points of his team’s Manifesto and by turns his panel-members had their own chance to contribute, offering insights in line with their own personal expertise.

Krishna and fellow-candidates for the vice-president positions, Annabel Pennefather and Doctor Teoh Chin Sim, gave everyone the benefit of their own specialist knowledge, the latter in the realm of women’s sport and sports medicine, respectively. Both women spoke from the heart about essential improvements they feel are needed to bring Singapore football to the next level.

Chairman of National Football League (NFL) club Kaki Bukit, Zaki, the remaining candidate for a vice-president spot, elaborated at some length about his own vision for the neglected competition of which he’s a crucial part.

The perpetual themes reverberating throughout proceedings were the collaborative ambitions of Bill Ng’s team, which he was quick to point out was certainly no one-man-band and was at pains to describe the team’s intentions of taking a bottom-up approach to the organisation of Singapore football, should they be elected on Saturday 29th April in the first elections for its football administration to take place in the nation’s history.

Bill Ng got up a full head of steam as he outlined his background in the local game and his previous dealings with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) during his many years in the game.

Deputy-president candidate, Lau Kok Keng, wrapped things up towards the end of a lively evening, explaining many of his own experiences when vice-chairman at Geylang International for four years. His can-do approach to sprucing up Geylang’s Bedok Stadium brought much mirth to those listening to his account of trying to do something to improve the lot of loyal Eagles’ fans. Lau’s witty repartee and useful summing up was a nice way to bring things to a conclusion as host Steven Tan thanked everyone for their attendance and hoped-for support at the end-of-month’s decisive vote.

Our First, U21, and U17 Teams Train Together At Jurong West Stadium

Our first team, U21s, and U17s trained together this morning, on a very hot Good Friday at our holding home stadium, Jurong West.

Our U21s worked on the fundamentals. Their best result in the Prime League this season was their 4-2 win over NFA U17 back in March. They play their next game against Geylang International on 18 April.

Our U17 goalkeepers — Nabil, Shah, and Arthur, were trained this morning for the first time by first team goalkeeper coach, William Phang. From the one hour and fifteen minute ‘relaxed’ session, William was impressed with our young boys saying, “The goalkeepers from the U17s were hardworking and I discovered something in them.”

William also believes it’s important for all our goalkeepers, from the first team down to the youth teams, to train together and said, “It’s an opportunity for the junior goalkeepers to learn and see how to carry themselves both on and off the field from the seniors. It’s a motivation for the juniors to train harder to reach where our seniors are.”

We can confirm that our U17 goalkeepers were completely drenched in sweat after their session with William.

The first team had a recovery session this morning after a week of intense training. Our next game will be in the AFC Cup, where we will be travelling to Pahang, Malaysia to face Felda United for the away leg on 19 April.

See Photos From This Morning’s Session:

Stags Give Leaders Hougang a Tough Time

By Greenrover

In the end it wasn’t enough to topple Prime League leaders Hougang United at Jurong West Stadium on Tuesday night, but Tampines Rovers certainly made life hard for the unbeaten Cheetahs before going down in a thriller, 2-1.

Quicker to every ball in the first half that saw Dilwant Singh’s boys forge to a deserved 26th minute lead, Tampines found their opponents just that little bit sharper in a battling second-half when their cause was not aided by a 65th minute red card for midfielder, Danish Uwais, who’d been cautioned early in the first half and then incurred the ire of referee, Nazree Hussain, a second time with a late tackle as Hougang went looking for a winner as the match hung in the balance at 1-1.

Coach Dilwant is only a few weeks into his job, but is aware of steady progress being made by the team, this game, for example, beginning in very positive fashion.

With three wins and one draw behind them going into this game Hougang United, coached by Robin Chitrakar and with the club’s S.League coach Philippe Aw taking a keen interest from the stands, were expected to give Tampines their toughest test to date.

After all, they’d scored 14 goals in their four outings, but that didn’t intimidate Tampines who barely gave them an inch to move before the break.

The Stags’ recent S.League team contributor, Zulfadhmi Suzliman, whose late introduction led to the team’s fourth goal in their latest 4-0 win over Geylang International, was not shot-shy here, heading just over in the third minute from Khairul Nizam’s excellent cross and then going close with a long-range effort that barely cleared the crossbar, two minutes later.

Then, trying something similar, Syed Haziq had Hougang keeper, Ahmad Fadly, almost spilling his powerful shot before, perhaps somewhat hastily, smashing a shot that crashed off the bar in the 17th minute after Diego Silvas had cut the ball back in his path, quite perfectly.

Then, from a free-kick on the right, dispatched crisply by Zulfadhmi in the 23rd, gleeful Tampines players converged on the ball in a packed Hougang goalmouth, with Diego stabbing home from close range to put the Stags in front.

They’d worked hard for every ball and looked decidedly the better side in a gripping first-half and the big question was whether the Stags could maintain that positive momentum.

Appeals for a penalty went unheeded in the 32nd when Haziq charged through to meet the keeper, coming down in a clumsy challenge, but the referee was not interested.

Hougang’s best chance of the half came in the 34th when Gareth Low fired wide as home players and fans breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Prior to this game Hougang’s Syukri Bashir had nabbed five goals and he’d been kept relatively quiet in this game, thanks to a vigilant Stags’ defence that limited his opportunities.

Hougang were back on the field before the referees had knocked on their dressing room door and they obviously saw no point remaining there, after hearing some strong words from their coach during the break.

Hougang had a goal disallowed within minutes of the restart for offside, but it was very evident that they meant business, as they set about restoring parity in the fiercely combative game.

Intense pressure, with the Tampines’ defence fully stretched, saw the Cheetahs draw level in the 58th, with Syukri unstoppable as he netted from close range.

After that it was backs-to-the wall for Tampines who deployed Diego up front and left the others to try and contain a rampant Hougang.

The Stags appeared to be holding on well enough, before losing Danish to a red card, but coach Dilwant had already seen enough from his S.League youngster, Haziq, electing to put on Rafiq Tajudin instead, in the 56th minute.

Tampines’ goalkeeper, Haikal Hasnol, had an otherwise decent game, but he won’t be too pleased with himself after Hougang forged to the lead in the 74th minute on the strength of a long-range, speculative shot that he appeared to have covered, but inexplicably proved too powerful to hold onto, as the ball slipped through his outstretched fingers.

Seven minutes from time Diego got away on the left and reached the byline before pulling the ball back, but no Tampines players were close enough to latch onto it, a defender almost putting the ball into his own net before the keeper made a save,

Two minutes into stoppage-time and the Stags almost rescued a deserved point, but unfortunately Khairul Nizam’s shot from six yards was not strong enough to trouble the alert Hougang keeper.

It was a good all-round performance by a side that’s steadily improving and showing plenty of mettle.

They’ll need to sustain that hunger and application for a full 90 minutes against future opponents as a strong first-half only took them half-way here.

Hougang are. of course, riding high with four wins and a draw now, but Tampines can win again soon, after collecting just four points to date from their five outings.

Their next engagement is at Bedok Stadium on Tuesday 18th April with the Eagles beaten only once so far, but being nowhere near as prolific as Hougang with only eight goals to their name, compared to the Cheetahs’ sixteen.

Sahil Suhaimi: I Played My First Match For Burnley!

10th April — my second full day in England, my first match with Burnley.

Compared to yesterday where we had a double training session, there wasn’t as much going on. I woke up around eight this morning, and I have been going to bed around ten at night. I get around ten hours of sleep every night as I want to make sure I’m fully rested and prepared for a brand new day here.

We played Derby County in a friendly game today and drew 2-2. I came on as a substitute and played for half an hour. We had to report at 11:30am for our team meeting, but I was half an hour early. So, I went and changed before going for the meeting. After that, we went out to the pitch for our warm up. The atmosphere pre-match in the dressing room is great. Everyone motivates each other and we’re all very pumped up.

After the game, we went for our makan and recovery. For makan we had pasta with tomato sauce, chicken, salads, and fruit. We also drank a protein recovery shake after the game. Players also made use of the fantastic facilities in the training centre for recovery, with some of my teammates going to the swimming pools.

After the game, I walked back home. The journey between my house and the training centre is around a ten minute walk. I enjoy the journey of my walk as I get to soak in the amazing surrounding. For example, I get to walk past all the houses near mine, which aren’t like the houses back home in Singapore. I also get to walk through long roads, where both sides are lined with big trees, and big areas of green fields. On my walk, I also happen to walk on the same roads that the cars drive by on. The nature here is really beautiful.

My first game in England was tough as it’s only my second day here and I’ve already played a game back home in Singapore for the AFC Cup with Tampines Rovers last Tuesday. Football is much faster and physically strong here. I’m still adapting to the weather but I think I did alright for a first timer. Although the game was tough, it was a good experience for me and I learned a lot. However, I have to work harder and learn fast here.

Overall, my second day in England was good and I will continue to work hard.

For now, it’s time for me to go to bed and get my rest. Thank you for reading about my second day here, and I will talk to all of you back home in Singapore again tomorrow.

Goodnight. 😴✌🏽

– Sahil Suhaimi
(11th April 2017)

Sahil Suhaimi: My First Day With Burnley

I arrived in England at 1:25pm, which is 8:25pm SGT on 9th April. England is usually eight hours behind, but the clocks have changed as it’s daylight saving time, and I am now seven hours behind Singapore.

10th April, the day after I arrived, it was time for me to start my player training experience.

I woke up around 7am as I was really knocked out from the long journey — around a 14 hour flight. Anthony Fairclough (Commercial Director) fetched me around 9am to go to the training ground, which in fact is new and was just recently opened by Burnley. He showed me around and I saw everything in the training centre, and was also introduced to the players and staff at Burnley.

Right after that, I took my training kit and it was straight to the first session of the day. After some light work in the morning, it was time for lunch. Lunch was in the training complex itself as there is a chef that cooks for everyone — from the first team straight down to the youth teams. The food was good, and the chef prepared salads, pasta, fish, chicken and fruit for all of us, just to mention a few things.

As all players eat in the same canteen, I had the chance to meet players from the first, aka Premier League, team such as Joey Barton. I didn’t get to take photos with the first team players as no phones are allowed during training and meal time. The ‘no phone’ rule is something I’m used to, as Juergen doesn’t allow us to use phones during meal time as well, but it is hard not being able to use my phone for the whole day.

We had a one hour break after lunch, and it was straight to the second session of the day where we had field training. We washed up, and Anthony brought me to Turf Moor — Burnley’s home stadium. I saw everything from the changing rooms to the office. Anthony sent me back home after we visited Turf Moor. Oh, by the way, it was 7 to 8 degrees throughout the day.

The facilities here in Burnley’s training centre are top class. You name it, they have it. A gym for recovery, swimming pools, physio room, everything! Best of all, it’s all in one place.

With a double session for my first day here, the coaches were impressed with me and I’m on the bench for tomorrow’s game against Derby County!

So, that’s day one. 😝

– Sahil Suhaimi
(10th April 2017)

[This was written by Sahil yesterday, so the game against Derby County will be tonight, 11 April.]