Not Cubs but Lions

The Young Lions sure fired our football imagination about the return to the Kallang Roar days, and I thank them for it. They stressed that Singapore sportsmen and spectators can still be a cohesive lot in victory and loss. Let me get it clear that I’m a fan of Singapore sports and totally believe that Singapore can make it. If small countries like Israel, Ireland, New Zealand etc can have Olympic medals, so can we in time to come, Youth Olympic or Olympic ones.

The cubs did a great job without question, but let’s remember that the YOG football started with 6 teams in the competition – Vanuatu, Bolivia, Singapore, Zimbabwe, Haiti and Montenegro. The 2008 Beijing Olympics had 16 teams while the 2010 World Cup had 32 teams striking for gold. While we appreciate the cubs’ inspiring performance in the past week at Jalan Besar, let’s also temper it with perspective. We might, or might not, have done as well if there are more teams in the game.

Heartbreak for Singapore
Cubs in tears after semi-final loss but star man Hanafi wants bronze

05:55 AM Aug 23, 2010
by Shamir Osman

SINGAPORE – The tears flowed down the faces of most of the players, except for Hanafi Akbar.

The striker stood tall to face the media, like he did against Haiti out on the Jalan Besar Stadium pitch.

The Singapore under-15 football team carried the hopes of a nation at these inaugural Youth Olympic Games, but they fell 2-0 to Haiti in the semi-final last night, extinguishing hopes of an unexpected fight for gold.

It was heartbreak for the team, who were revved up, full of confidence after a stirring win over Montenegro in their group game.

They started the game as if out to run over the Haitians, but as the game wore on, their opponents got used to the electric atmosphere and settled down.

When Carlos Gluce pounced on a rebound in the 38th minute to deal the first blow, the partisan crowd still felt the Cubs could launch a fightback.

When Haiti captain Daniel Gedeon kept his cool to slot home an 80th minute penalty, the home fans knew time was up.

Singapore will face Montenegro in the bronze medal match on Wednesday, after the Europeans fell 3-1 to Bolivia in the first semi-final played yesterday.

Singapore goalkeeper Fashah Rosedin fell to the ground when referee Istvan Vat blew the final whistle, as did many of those in Singapore’s red shirts.

Many of the Singapore players came into the post-match press conference with red eyes, but not Hanafi.

"It was a very tough match for us, we gave it all that we’ve got, but we lost and we have to look forward to the (bronze medal) match. I’m not sure what happened out there, but I did my best, and so did my team-mates," he said, unflinching.

The Singapore No 10, possibly the most talented attacker Singapore has seen in some time, was inspirational out on the pitch, prodding Singapore into attack, his jinking runs a constant thorn in Haiti’s side; his incisive passes splitting the Caribbean defence apart, only for Singapore to spurn the opportunities.

"Our heads must be high and we need to regain our confidence," he said, with a maturity beyond his 14 years.

But the powers that be are already looking beyond the bronze medal match against Montenegro, in a bid to keep a team that has brought a nation to its feet, together.

"We’ve got a team with great potential … if you look at the way they’ve improved from last year to this year, quite frankly they’ve done way beyond our expectations. We will continue to believe in them," said Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Vivian Balakrishnan.


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