Categories
Exclusive Football International Sports

Premiere League’s Alleged Corruption — Just What Is Going On With Newcastle’s Takeovers?

Over an entire decade, Newcastle United Football Club’s (NUFC) owner Mike Ashley has made his intentions of selling the Tyneside club clear.

Since his acquisition in 2007 for £135 million, the British billionaire has, on multiple occasions, reiterated his desire to let go of the reigns amidst incompetence in the Premiere League, most vocally by mounting pressure from fans.

Ashley, who owns multiple businesses like discount chain Sports Direct, boxing goods manufacturer Everlast, and a slew of other sporting good brands, has been cited as a lackluster investor and ‘void of ambition’ in trying to resurrect NUFC to a semblance of its glory days, prioritising cost-effectiveness over sporting success.

Yet it isn’t for a lack of suitors that the club has failed to acquire a new owner.

Since his ownership, a slew of potential buyers have partaken in long, drawn out sagas of discussions till the fallout of an eventual sale — a circus most recently fronted by Singaporean firm Bellagraph Nova Group (BNG). Just why exactly have these fallen through?

Reuters investigates Bellagraph Nova Group

BNG were the latest to throw their hat into the takeover ring on August 15 2020; in a press release, the newly registered Singapore company announced a turnover of $12 billion in 2019 from its headquarters in Paris, whilst stating that “negotiations are at an advanced stage” following a letter of intent (LOI) and proof of funds (POF) sent to Mike Ashley.

A statement made by the group also claimed that they were closely working with former England captain Alan Shearer and former NUFC player Michael Chopra for the takeover. BNG’S bid was $280 million.

The group, which was registered only in July 2020, then posted marketing collaterals of their co-founding members Terence Loh, Nelson Loh, and Evangeline Shen engaged in a photo-op with Barack Obama on multiple occasions.

However, when pressed on the legitimacy of their intentions and operations by Reuters, BNG’s existence is riddled with discrepancies.

According to government records, no company under the name of Bellagraph Nova Group is officially registered in France; the address of which they are said to have been operating out of — 10 Place Vendome — does not contain the company’s records either.

Alan Shearer’s management subsequently said he was not involved in the takeover efforts.

Then, when questioned on their publicity efforts, BNG’s head of investor relations released a separate statement stating that the company had knowingly edited photos of the ex-United States president as if he had attended one of their company’s meeting. They have since taken down said photos from their social channels.

BNG has also listed affiliations and claimed ownership of multiple companies and entities (Hydra X, NETX, BN Airlines), most of which have outrightly rubbished the purported relationship or do not exist altogether.

While it remains to be seen what transpires, Reuters reports that all three of the co-founders did not respond to their requests for comments. Mike Ashley has not yet responded publicly to the bid, as well as the controversy.

Saudi Arabia’s ‘almost’ takeover, and the League’s deafening silence

Before BNG, it was Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chairman of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), who proposed a $300 million purchase of NUFC in a consortium. The PIF, which invests in international projects, is Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

Out of all the bids in the past, the Prince’s takeover was the only one that had reached the closing stages of checks by the Premiere League’s owners’ and directors’ test, which assesses the suitability of an entity to parent a football club.

The takeover was stalled by the League for several months during these tests, of which many political and corruption issues saw the light of day.

In one of the many hindrances, human rights organisations condemned Saudi Arabia’s owners and practices concerning welfare. Amnesty International also advised that a regime that’s consistently embroiled in human rights abuses should be distanced from the Premiere League.

In 2018, the CIA concluded that Bin Salman ordered the 2018 assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.

Premiere League CEO Richard Masters had been singled out for this, with Amnesty UK director Kate Allen having requested a ban of the takeover.

“I believe there are serious questions to address in determining whether the owners and directors of the company seeking to acquire NUFC are meeting standards that can protect the reputation and image of the game,” Allen said in a letter to Masters.

Further, prominent NUFC fanbase site, nufc.blog.co.uk, have taken it upon themselves to shed light on the ostensibly nefarious reasons as to why the Saudi takeover was stalled by the League, who has substantial ties with officials in Qatar and broadcasting rights with Qatar owned BeIN Sports.

As the Telegraph reports, “The league is desperate to hang on to keeping their process secret because they have Ashley’s lawyers circling in one corner and BeIN Sports in the other.”

At present, Newcastle United are several weeks into the transfer window without purchasing any players. Mike Ashley is still the owner, and are two weeks away from the start of the new season.

Categories
Europe Football International Sports United Kingdom

A Round-Up Of The 19/20 English Premiere League And A Look Towards The Season Starting September

The 2019/20 English Premiere League (EPL) finally drew its curtains on Sunday, 26 July 2020.

Spanning almost an entire year, the 28th season was the league’s longest ever, with an unprecedented 100-day hiatus enacted from March till mid-June.

After global sporting events had been put on an indefinite hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league subsequently drew up plans to safely reinstate the season, titled ‘Project Restart’. It officially began on 17 June 2020 behind closed doors but televised.

As its trophy was lifted by eventual champions Liverpool in a vacant Anfield stadium, we marvel at some of the accolades, statistics, and circumstances which made this a remarkable season throughout.

The Champions

Liverpool ended their 30 year hunt for a league title since 1990, and their first in the modern Premiere League era. Beyond the trophy, the Merseyside club boasts a treasure trove of impressive achievements throughout their dispatch.

The league leaders finished the season with a 99-point record, just a point shy of breaking Manchester City’s 2017/18 stronghold, but amassed a major 25-point lead during the season, the biggest ever obtained in English top-flight history. They’ve also pipped City to the most home wins in a row (21), outshining the blues (20) in their 2011-2012 season.

This Liverpool team are also the quickest to win the title in history, with 7 matches to spare, outing both Manchester outfits (5).

Lastly, they’ve also achieved a feat no other team has in any of Europe’s top leagues, boasting 79 points from their first 27 matches to be awarded the best league start ever, a stat befitting of the English and European champions.

The League

The hiatus and eventual restart was a welcome sight for some and saw a fall from grace for others.

Frank Lampard’s maiden season in-charge in the league saw him silence critics and steer Chelsea to a 4th place finish, meaning their position for Champions League football was deservedly secured ahead of their FA Cup final against Arsenal, which they eventually lost. The Gunners plundered for glory in the Cup as their only hopes for European competition, after finishing 8th under Mikel Arteta.

Level in points to Chelsea (but besting in goal difference) were 3rd placed Manchester United, who much enjoyed a spring in form as the only team left unbeaten since the restart (5W2D), with many attributing their success to January capture Bruno Fernandes.

The Red Devils, along with Wolverhampton Wanderers, are also still in the mix for the Europa League trophy, which could see either Ole’s or Nuno’s side possibly come away with a Champions League position should either emerge as champions.

Pep Guardiola’s side finished 18 points behind Liverpool, and despite being runner-up’s, have drawn criticism from pundits and watchers for their unfamiliar erratic form throughout the season.

Leicester City’s hopes of obtaining a Champions League place after finishing 5th were dashed by Manchester City’s successful appeal to overturn their UEFA ban, and re-occupying a Champions League seat, which see the foxes competing in the Europa League instead, alongside José Mourinho’s 6th placed Tottenham Hotspur.

The Pandemic

The league adapted to a variety of changes which were put in place for the pandemic. ‘Project Restart’ saw teams train in social distancing groups of 5, with squads being segregated into allotted training schedules and divided segments of training grounds, with dedicated coaching staff for each session.

Stadiums were allowed a maximum of 300 people at any one time, which meant beyond squad members, club staff, and grounds caretakers, matches were played in front of a barren stadium void of chants and cheering.

An inevitable consequence of this meant home and away games did not replicate the same ambience and mental weight as status quo, but also that watchers of the game on television could opt between ‘simulated stadium ambient’ sounds of cheers, or simply hearing the players’ shouts and screams as they were.

FIFA also allowed a use of 5 substitutes instead of the usual 3, which addressed fitness concerns and workload on players post-restart. Dedicated “red zones”, such as dressing rooms and tunnel/technical areas, were enacted with specific health restrictions, which included barcode scanning and COVID-19 health questionnaires prior to entry.

It remains to be seen how the 2020/21 season, beginning in September will shape up to be and whether the plethora of measures will still be in place/policed, but many grey areas, like the non-policing and non-punishment of players for violating stipulations, as well as post-match embracing and celebrations, will be enforced, if at all.

Beginning 12 September 2020, the season will see West Bromwich Albion promoted, as well as Leeds United’s 16-year return, while Bournemouth, Watford, and Norwich City are relegated to the Championship.

Categories
Football International Sports United Kingdom

Man Utd and Chelsea secure Champions League spots, Aston Villa stays on

Manchester United and Chelsea fans can now breathe a collective sigh of relief as both teams secured a spot in the next season of Champion’s League after a chaotic finish to the EPL season. Manchester United and Chelsea both have 66 points, finishing on the third and fourth spots respectively.

Manchester United won 2-0 in a match against Leicester City through goals by Bruno Fernandes and Jesse Lingard, cementing their third-place finish in the league. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes his team needs to get “stronger, fitter, and more robust” for the challenges of the Champions League next season.

In the meantime, Chelsea secured a comfortable 2-0 win over Wolverhampton. This resulted in a fourth-place finish above Leicester City and bagging the final Champions League spot. 

Good news for Leicester as they will go on to play in the Europa League next season alongside Tottenham Hotspurs, who drew 1-1 at Crystal Palace. This earned them a spot in the sixth place — above Wolves on goal difference.

Widely considered as one of the most decorated managers — Jose Mourinho, who now manages Leicester City took over the reins when the club was lagging behind in 14th place. Nonetheless, he remained optimistic in making a return to the Europa League one year after Spurs were in a Champions League final.

“Of course everybody that one day plays Champions League doesn’t want to go back and play Europa League but that was the only thing possible after such a difficult season for the club, for the players and also for myself,” Mourinho told the Associated Press.

“But arriving 14th and handling things is not bad at all. I am quite happy next season we play in Europa League. It’s just a question to motivate ourselves for that competition and try to motivate the fans to support us to do something beautiful.”

On relegation news, Aston Villa survived to fight for another day as they held on for an exciting 1-1 draw at West Hams. They scored in the 84th minute only to let in an easy goal a minute later. Fortunately, they managed to hold on to the draw till the last whistle. In a bittersweet moment, Captain Jack Grealish scored Villa’s goal in what could be his last goal for the club.

Bournemouth, on the other hand, was not so lucky.  Even though they had an arguably good match as they beat Everton, 3-1, it was not enough as they ended up one point behind Villa. Watford was also relegated after losing 3-2 at Arsenal.

Not only did Manchester City scored an impressive 100 goals this season, they also had a convincing win, beating an already demoted Norwich 5-0 win over last-place and already-demoted Norwich. This game also marked what will be the last in the Premier League for David Silva after playing 10 years with City. 

This season’s champions Liverpool ended their impressive run on a high note with a 3-1 win at Newcastle and as if that’s not enough, the team finished on a club-record 99 points.

On other EPL match news, Southampton won over Sheffield United 3-1, with Danny Ings scoring his 22nd goal of the season. In a battle over the season’s Golden Boot, he was one behind Leicester’s Jamie Vardy.

Burnley’s unfortunate losing streak since their first home defeat since New Year’s Day continued after losing 2-1 to Brighton and Hove Albion. Burnley ended the season in 10th place on 54 points while Brighton, who was almost on the brink of relegation, finished the season in 15th place.

Any hopes of Brentford’s returning to English Premiership for the first time in more than 70 years were dashed when Andre Ayew’s well-executed goal got Swansea City a 1-0 win in their Championship play-off semi-final first leg at their Liberty Stadium.

Categories
Football Spain Sports

Gareth Bale-d Out of Real Madrid?

Gareth Bale came to Real Madrid with much fanfare and a hefty price tag. Alas, he is now deemed as a grumpy benchwarmer and was voted as the club’s worst player of the 2019/20 season by Real Madrid’s fans.

More antics, less minutes

His antics haven’t exactly endeared him to the media or the club’s faithful, which include pretending to fall asleep during a game and appearing to make a ‘binoculars’ gesture on the bench during his side’s 2-1 win at Granada. When Real Madrid won its first 34th La Liga title, and it’s first in three years, he appeared subdued and left out from most of the celebrations. This season he has scored just three goals and made 14 starts across all competitions. When those figures are placed up against his reported earnings of £350,000 per-week after-tax, the numbers did not simply add up.

With that being said, most would agree that Bale has accomplished what most footballers could only dream of – 105 goals, 4 Champion League’s titles and 2 La Liga titles. Alas, he has suffered an unfortunate relationship with the club and in particular, coach Zinedine Zidane. Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero shared with Sky Sports, “Their relationship is broken. They don’t even talk and they don’t have a good relationship. It’s purely professional. It’s not like the relationship he has with Sergio Ramos, Casemiro or with Luka Modric.”

“He’s the most expensive player in Madrid’s history, but Zidane has counted on Karim Benzema, Marco Asensio has come back into the fold after nine months out injured, Eden Hazard will get better while even Rodrygo, Vinicius and sometimes Lucas Vazquez are ahead of him.” 

“Bale was a superstar four or five years ago, and when Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus, he was counted on to be the one who would replace his goals, but now he’s perhaps the sixth option.

“It’s impossible for him to resurrect his career at the club. He’ll be on the bench again next season and may play even less. It’s impossible for him to recover.”

Bale’s teammate, Toni Kroos, has also admitted the situation at Real Madrid is ‘unsatisfying’ for everyone at the club. Kroos, who has played with Bale for six years, told the Lauschangriff podcast, “There’s no getting around that the situation is unsatisfying for everyone. He certainly wasn’t brought in to play as little as he does now.”

What’s next?

In a shocking move by Real Madrid, Bale’s bid to join Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Suning last summer was cancelled by his team. The sooner he leaves, the better it is was the general consensus, but it appeared that offloading Gareth Bale is now a difficult task for Real Madrid with the forward still having two years remaining on his current deal at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Transfer to Manchester United? 

The transfer links that reported Gareth Bale to Manchester United amplified over the past few months as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are still in the hunt for a star forward. However, Manchester United are reluctant to pay the wages given Bale’s value and age.

Bale’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, spoke to BBC Sport  and said: “Gareth is fine, he’s got two years left on his contract and going nowhere, he likes living in Madrid.”

It seems Bale isn’t going anywhere for now as Montero shared, “My feeling, however, is that Zidane is now going to stay and there won’t be the same surprise as there was two years ago. It doesn’t make much sense to me for Bale to stay, but he will because there’s no club who’s going to make a satisfactory offer for Madrid.

“It’s a marriage still, but they sleep in different bedrooms.”

Categories
Football Sports United Kingdom

Football In The Time of Corona

The electrifying atmosphere filled with chants and uplifting vibes is what makes live football matches a treat to watch. Sadly, ever since the UK has been hit by COVID-19, all football matches have been held under close doors much to the dismay of EPL fans.

The EPL has also taken a financial hit of almost £1 billion (S$1.76 billion) as a result of empty stadiums and reduced commercial contracts. Not all hopes are lost fortunately as there will be changes in the coming 2020 – 2021 season. 

Thankfully, things are set to improve in the upcoming season. Even though matches will no longer be held behind closed doors, the entire 2020 – 2021 season will be played in reduced capacity stadiums and crowd sizes. However, a senior UK government health official has warned that these could be further affected if chanting is proven to increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Crowds are returning to sporting events in England, which include a cricket friendly at The Oval and the World Snooker Championship happening the week after. Professor James Calder, who chaired the cross-sport working group with the UK government and health officials on the return to sport, has told BBC Sport that sports events are highly unlikely to have full capacity crowds this year.

He shared that he would be very surprised to see a full-capacity stadium back this year. Only with a vaccine and a high take-up rate of that vaccine would make the stadiums brimming with die-hard fans once again. He was, however, open to the possibilities of teams playing in front of reduced crowd size.

Professor Calder has collaborated with various sporting bodies on the different phases of protocols that enable a return to sporting events from lockdown a possibility. He has since lauded the teams’ collaborative effort which resulted in an earlier than expected resumption of sporting events.

He also revealed that experiments are currently underway to determine if droplet spread is increased by chanting and singing — a staple in EPL matches, and therefore a greater risk of coronavirus transmission. 

“We need to know, actually, does it matter if you’re shouting, how far will those droplets spread?” he said. 

“At a football or a rugby match, the fans are going to be shouting and chanting and singing, I hope, and we need to be sure that the people in front of them are as safe as possible.”

“Now if there is no massive droplet spread, well OK, we can keep within the social distancing that we’ve put down for, say, the Crucible and The Oval. But if it is a problem, then we need to rethink the social distancing within the stadium, and that becomes very difficult,” he elaborates further. 

That being said, Professor Calder believed more information is needed before we see smaller crowds where chanting is common, such as football and rugby matches.

He also pointed out that it would be easier to see women’s sport bounce back faster to nearer a normal capacity than men’s football because venues are not often sold out.

“We can actually promote these sports far more easily and actually get a fanbase going, so I think it’s an opportunity for sports to change the way they are looking at things.” he continued. 

Most recently, Surrey’s two-day friendly against Middlesex at the Oval garnered 1,000 attendees while the same number will be able to watch the second day of Warwickshire’s pre-season derby with Worcestershire on Tuesday.

There are more trials scheduled for this weekend when the ECB’s four-day Bob Willis Trophy begins with 2,500 spectators allowed to attend each day at The Oval and Edgbaston.

Categories
Football Sports

Go Back to Basics — Gary Neville Comments on Manchester United’s David de Gea’s Form

Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville has said that the goalkeeper David de Gea must return to basics if he wants to come back from his disappointing form and regain his confidence.

In Friday’s Premier League match with Tottenham Hotspur which ended in a 1-1 draw, De Gea had deflected Steven Bergwijn’s shot and landed it in his own net. This prompted another former United captain, Roy Keane, to comment that he was “sick to death” of the Spanish goalkeeper.

The criticism of De Gea was defended by United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer despite the latter hinting at the possibility of Dean Henderson to become first choice for club and country.

This fumble was De Gea’s seventh since the start of last season — a record tally in the Premier League that is shared by Newcastle United’s Martin Dubravka, Everton’s Jordan Pickford and Arsenal’s Bernd Leno.

Neville said in his podcast that the Spaniard was the one player the team could rely upon for the last four years but he is no longer the same.

“When form drops for six months it’s a blip but when it goes on for a year you start to worry. When it goes over two years it becomes more permanent.”

United ranks fifth in the table with 46 points and is set to face Sheffield United, which is currently seventh on 44 points, on Wednesday.

Categories
Football International

Napoli Defeat Juventus to Win Italian Cup and Give Gennaro Gattuso First Trophy as Coach

Napoli knocked out Juventus 4-2 on penalties after a goalless draw in regulation time. The team was declared winners of the Italian Cup on Wednesday, 17th June 2020 with coach Gennaro Gattuso bagging his first major trophy as manager.

Napoli denied Juventus from clinching a treble this season when the shootout saw the former convert all shots while Juve’s Paulo Dybala and Danilo missed their first two attempts. The win gave Napoli the championship trophy for the sixth time.

It is also the first title won in the Italian season after a three-month long hiatus due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. The initial plan was to have the players collecting their own medals at the ceremony, but they were instead presented the honours from their respective club presidents, Aurelio De Laurentiis and Andrea Agnelli.

Gattuso’s managerial takeover in December after the team’s defiance against De Laurentiis’ week-long training camp made his victory even more notable. The 42 year-old said, “Football has given me so much and that is why I have so much passion for it. It’s something I can’t let go of, not even for a second.”

“Those of us who have this job must have respect for it because we’re lucky. I want to see people who put passion into it, I want a sense of belonging and respect.”

Napoli could have snatched victory in stoppage time if not for Gianluigi Buffon who made two amazing saves, denying Nikola Maksimovic’s header and Eljif Elmas’ point-black shot coming off a rebound onto the post.

Napoli had the best chances throughout the game leaving a frustrated Juventus striker Cristiano Ronaldo with little opportunity for possession. Lorenzo Insigne’s 30-metre free kick attempt in the first half was blocked by Buffon while Arkadiusz Milik’s shot went over the bar.

As both the teams are still in the Champions League, Juventus was chasing for the ninth successive title since the initial match as he was drawn from both the games 0-0 in the lead series A.

Since the restart, Juventus has had goalless draws in both their matches and are currently in the lead in Serie A, hoping to bag a ninth successive title. Both teams are still in the Champions League.

Categories
Football Sports

New Protocols in Place as English Premier League Returns

The English Premier League (EPL) season restarted on Wednesday, 17 June after a three-month hiatus with new measures in place.

“Strict protocols have been put in place to ensure that stadiums are as safe as possible for everybody present.” This was the statement issued by the league ahead of the kick-off that stipulates guidelines to follow due to the global COVID-19 crisis.

AFP Sport checks the formulated protocols:

Stadium safety

Stadium grounds are divided into three zones, namely, red, amber and green, with different sets of protocols assigned to each zone. Red zones of any stadium includes the pitch, technical area, tunnel, and dressing rooms – those who have undergone tests prior to the five days are allowed to enter the red zones. To grant access, they must flash a bar code called a “clinical passport” showing their negative test results before being allowed entry.

For the remaining 92 matches of the season, around 300 people are allowed into the stadiums.

Pre-match check

Before reaching the stadium, there are COVID-19 screenings for players and staff. Traveling on the road or on flights are permissible as long as the environment is sterile and social distancing norms are implemented as a top priority.

For Sheffield United’s first match since the relaunch, their visit to Aston Villa on Wednesday saw some changes. Manager Chris Wilder shares, “We are going on three buses. The main guys are on the first one, so you will see the team from who gets off first.”

Making their way to the dressing rooms, the away teams must be directed from their vehicles through a sterile route that provides sufficient space for social distancing. In the rooms, staggered use is preferred and teams can use the showers if safe distancing is maintained.

Instead of the usual dressing room in Villa Park, Sheffield United occupied the press room and players’ lounge instead to change. Wilder also added that the players have to stay two metres apart when there is a break in play.

Some stadiums have also allocated separate tunnels for players and match officials. For use of single tunnels to and from the pitch must be staggered.

Hygiene

With the exception of players and coaching staff on the bench, everyone at the stadium is instructed to wear face coverings.

Areas such as changing facilities, dugouts, matchballs, goalposts, corner flags and substitution boards are disinfected thoroughly before each match.

No Handshakes

Handshakes between players and at the coin toss will not take place.

Players will stagger themselves as they stand for the league anthem at the start of each match. Meanwhile, the team benches will be expanded to allow for safe distancing.

Ban on Spitting

Even during goal celebrations, players have been instructed to keep the appropriate distance from other players. In addition, they must not spit or nose-clear or share water bottles.

During matches, players are also encouraged to avoid confronting opponents or officials in a group and minimise interaction with opponents after the match.

Dedryck Boyata of Hertha Berlin was seen to have violated the rules last month when he grabbed teammate’s Marko Grujic’s face during a match in the Bundesliga. He later apologised and said that players need to adjust to the new restrictions.

Categories
Football Sports

Fandi Ahmad Appointed Head of Elite Youth

Fandi Ahmad will be the FAS’ new Head of Elite Youth, the organisation announced in a media statement last Saturday (23 Nov).

The announcement quashes rumours that Fandi was considering offers from overseas clubs.

Currently the head coach of the Singapore Premier League’s Young Lions team and the national Under-22 team competing in the SEA Games, Fandi’s contract was due to expire on 31st December of this year.

While the FAS did not state the length of the extension, The Straits Times reported that it will be for two years.

In the statement, FAS said Fandi will work closely with technical director Joseph Palatsides to enhance the pathways and structure for the development of youth players for the national teams.

This includes player scouting and tracking, mentorship programmes as well as specialised training sessions for players in the various national teams. 

In addition, Fandi will also be part of national team coach Tatsuma Yoshida’s backroom staff, in order to create greater synergy between the elite youth developmental pipeline and the National Team.

Nazri Nasir, the current national assistant team coach, will take over the reins of the Young Lions in the 2020 Singapore Premier League season, as well as the Under-22 National Team.

Commenting on his new role, Fandi said he was confident in the development of young elite players in Singapore and was looking forward to working with Joseph and the national youth coaches to develop the next generation of players.

“I have seen potential in many youth players over the years but not many had the opportunity to be groomed for the future. We need to establish a strong foundation for our youth development system so that we can identify and nurture the talent of tomorrow,” Fandi added.

Welcoming the appointment, FAS General Secretary Yazeen Buhari said in the statement, “Fandi has accumulated a wealth of coaching experience in the last 20 years and we see the value he brings to the area of elite youth development. 

“His work rate and professionalism are exceptional and he has embraced the FAS’ desire to further develop our youth footballers. He has developed a good working relationship with National Team Coach Tatsuma and we see this partnership further growing for the benefit of Singapore Football.”

This article first appeared on The Straits Times.

Categories
Football Local Sports

Laos Earns Point in Goalless Draw Against Singapore in SEA Games 2019 Men’s Football Opening Game

In what was a physically challenging game for Laos, they stood their ground against a Singapore side whose captain Irfan Fandi stood almost two heads taller than Laotian skipper Souk Aphone Vongchiengkham.

Singapore head coach Fandi Ahmad fielded a strong side for the game, naming Singapore Premier League player of the year Faris Ramli and Norwegian side Raufoss striker Ikhsan Fandi in the lineup.

And Irfan Fandi, with 23 senior international caps to his name, commanded the backline with another towering centre-back, Lionel Tan. 

Singapore had set themselves lofty ambitions going into the game, aiming to make it to the knockout stages from their “Group of Death’. On the other hand, Laos would be more than content with getting more than three points at this group stage — their tally at the 2017 Games. 

But based on the game, it was clear that Laos could aim higher than that, resolutely defending against Singapore’s offensive waves. 

And while the result did not go Fandi’s way, it was a welcome reunion with Laos head coach and ex-teammate V. Sundramoorthy.

Laos face Vietnam next, who served Brunei a 6-0 thrashing in their opening game. For Singapore, they face an in-form Indonesian side who defeated defending champions Thailand 2-0.

 

This article first appeared on Fox Sports Asia.