The Unofficial Hougang United FC Supporters Blog

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Find yourself a gem of a game

By AsiaOne
Photo: TNP
SINGAPORE - There's nothing quite like watching a football game live at the stadium.

But, while fans have flocked to the Jalan Besar Stadium to watch the LionsXII strut their stuff in the Malaysian Super League, our own S-League continues to struggle with the numbers.

If you were one of the 447 fans watching last Friday's clash between Harimau Muda and Hougang United, however, you'd not be bothered with the statistics.

The match had everything you could ask for as a neutral.

There were end-to-end goalmouth action and plenty of flying - committed, not dirty - challenges on the field.

Both coaches - the Malaysian side's Ong Kim Swee and Hougang's Nenad Bacina - were vocal and animated on the touchline, protesting and appealing against decisions that didn't go their way.

The best part was that at the final whistle, there was no hint of animosity whatsoever.

The two coaches shared a quick word and cordial handshake, and not once complained to the media about anything that went against them during the game.

Speaking about his lively behaviour on the touchline, Bacina shrugged his shoulders as he said: "I like to bring emotion into the game, and I want my players to bring emotion too.

"Let's be honest - the fans come to the stadiums to see this. Of course, not to see the coaches or players fighting, but to see this emotion and drama."

How true.

Important as well, were the fans in the stands who were brilliantly loud and produced one of the best atmospheres in an S-League stadium this year.

Not a single drum or percussion instrument was brought into Yishun Stadium that night.

Frankly, they weren't needed.

For every jibe the Hougang Hools threw at their Malaysian counterparts, a song would be sung in riposte.

This went on from the first minute to the last.


When Affize Faisal's 90th-minute goal sealed a 3-1 victory for the Malaysians, their Ultras roared in approval, singing "Harimau Malaya" until the end of the game.

Even when Ong was speaking to the media, a pocket of about 20 Ultras kept chanting his name, making it difficult for the reporters to hear what he was saying.

But I don't think any of us minded it.

With all due respect to the two teams, I don't think many people expected such an absorbing game of football between them.

But that seems to be the trend at this season's S-League games.

Whereas matches between the traditional big guns - like Tampines Rovers, SAFFC and Home United - have often turned into cagey games of chess, the ones involving less-fancied teams have proved more entertaining.

Harimau Muda were also involved in an exhilarating match with Woodlands Wellington last month, when they won 2-1.

There were a remarkable four penalties in that game - of which one was missed - and a hatful of other chances which either went wide or were stopped by brilliant goalkeeping.

And who would have thought the Courts Young Lions would thrash Tanjong Pagar 5-0 five days later, on the Jaguars' own Queenstown turf?

The one-sided result aside, the match was a spectacle for the neutrals, a thoroughly entertaining affair.

Special mention has to go to Tanjong Pagar, who, just last Saturday, provided us with possibly the biggest upset of the season by beating Home 1-0.

What a way to bounce back, eh?

These results just go to show how unpredictable this year's S-League has been.

If you pick the right stadium to go, you might find yourself watching a real gem of a match. (SOURCE)

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