Tigers roar louder; Dollah salutes never-say-die attitude; Malaysia-Singapore love

As published in Malay Mail today


Reports by Vijhay Vick
vijhayvick@mmail.com.my

SINGAPORE — The once famous Kallang Roar was reduced to a whisper as Harimau Malaya stunned defending champions Singapore 3-1 to reach the AFF Cup semifinals last night.

Skipper Shukor Adan said his teammates were not intimidated by the challenge of playing in the Lions’ den and admitted he was surprised the Malaysian fans, though outnumbered, were noisier.

“The crowd did not intimidate us at all. We were well prepared for it,” said the 35-year- old.

“We (players) shed blood for the team and it paid off. Our prayers were answered.

“I don’t think it’s enough to go on to win the tournament. We have to build on this and work on the team so we become better.”

Shukor and Amri Yahyah will miss the semifinals first leg next Sunday after picking up yellow cards.

Meanwhile, Safee Sali was relieved to find his touch after scoring the opener.

“I am delighted to score. It’s a huge relieve as we went on to win,” he said.

“Our journey is similar to 2010, when we won. We pulled through at the last minute and even met Vietnam in the semis. Hopefully, it’s the same outcome again.

“I went to hug coach Dollah Salleh after the goal because I had to thank him for trusting in me. 

“I have so much more of feelings inside. I can’t describe it,” said Safee.

***

Dollah salutes never-say-die attitude

“I ALMOST had a heart attack.”

Such was the drama and excitement that national coach Dollah Salleh admitted he could hardly stand the pressure as Malaysia beat Singapore 3-1.

Malaysia not only needed to win, but hope Myanmar did not better their score against Thailand in the other match at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

It did not matter as Thailand won 2-0 but Dollah confessed they were celebrating even without knowing the score.
“We started celebrating without even checking. I thank God for the penalty at the very last minute. The players never gave up after Singapore equalised.

“I like their attitude. They fought and gave everything they could.”

The win was only Dollah’s second since he took charge in July. Their other was a 4-1 result against lowly Cambodia in September.

The team had lost four of their five pre-tournament friendlies. Some questioned the penalty decision but Dollah insisted: “Of course it was a penalty.

“I keep telling them to work hard and never give up. It showed. I’m proud of my players,” said Dollah.

Meanwhile, the Thais fielded a much-changed team from their earlier wins over Singapore and Malaysia but they took the lead against Myanmar after 12 minutes when Tanaboon Kesarat rifled a shot into the top corner from the edge of the box. Prakit Deeprom then sealed the win with seven minutes left, firing in a freekick from 25m.

***

Much ado about nothing

SINGAPORE — So much was said about the fans for the AFF Cup encounter between Malaysia and  Singapore at the National Stadium yesterday.

Advisories were issued ensuring the Malaysian fans were kept in check and away from the home crowd.
Judging from postings on social media, some Malaysian fans were denied entry into the republic at various check points at Tuas, Woodlands and Changi airport.

Yet, many Malaysian fans were seen walking among Singaporeans at the Kallang and many even posed for photographs together.

In some areas, groups of 30-50 Malaysian fans gathered in orderly manner while policemen walked around the stadium keeping a watchful eye on Harimau Malaya supporters.

The Ultras Malaya were allowed to roam around the stadium on their own, but those who came by busses were guided in and out of the stadium.

All this took place despite heated postings on social media and a provocative video by sports channel Fox Sport Asia, that went viral with many slamming the advert for dissing Malaysian fans.

In the end, the fans showed their love of the game outweighed all the hatred fanned by those in power.

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