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dimanche, janvier 28, 2007

 Singapore vs Malaysia: Asean Championships Semifinals at National Stadium

Despite the hugeness of this match, I found it difficult to find people to go! Perhaps I didn't give enough warning, but I had thought that everyone knew it was coming up and that we just HAD to watch it. Silly me for projecting.

After much grief (traffic tailback from Kallang TO THOMSON ROAD, rain, tickets sold out, Josh pulling out due to work committments), Stan managed to buy tickets off a "dodgy-looking old man" without getting scalped, and we made it into the stadium about 20 mins into the match.

It was PACKED to capacity - there were no steps, no seats, nothing: every single seat was taken, and then some! We managed to score ourselves a place which these bunch of malay boys said "got people sitting", but I figured there was enough space to squeeze everyone in. Turns out they never returned, so we had great seats right along midfield.

The Malaysian contingent was seated where they usually sit - somewhere in a corner, surrounded by Cisco security guards in their fluorescent jackets. They were small in number, but these fans had teeth, making quite a lot of noise when the first shocking goal game - aided by the fact that the entire stadium was shocked at the poor handling of the ball. After half a second of disbelief, the jeers came: "Keeper Kelong!" became the rallying cry for the next five minutes. I have to say that the goal was a huge disappointment, but my heart went out to the keeper after about 15 minutes when the crowd around us was still muttering angrily about the poor defense. However, when we finally equalized, the roar was the stuff that magic is made out of - a warming of the heart, the complete deafening of the ears, and the utter compulsion to hug a complete stranger who's just as happy as you - the burst of celebration after that goal was a beautiful thing to see, and is the reason why I brave traffic and rain to watch these things live.

Apart from that, the match itself was rather ho-hum actually - no sudden bursts of brilliance, and no controversies, although there was a little tussle with the legs which resulted in a yellow card for Fazrul Nawaz... I was almost certain he was going to get a red. The keeper was consistently inconsistent, which is better than just plain old inconsistent, I suppose. It was a match where both sides were equally good (or bad), and both goals were lucky accidents rather than ones that were created from sporting prowess.

The end of the match came with a palpable sense of tension in the air, but strangely, there was no urgency conveyed during extra-time on the field. Not that there weren't attempts at goal, but both sides seemed to be waiting for the penalty shootout to occur. They were probably too tired by that time.

The penalty shootout was fun - we went first, then Malaysia. Cheers and cries of "masuk bola!" or "goal!" were heard every time a Singapore player stepped up to take the shot, and boos and jeers and "butol" followed Malaysian boots. Cheers for every Singaporean goal, and jeers for the Malaysian ones, until Shi Jiayi took the final Singapore shot. Everyone started chanting "加油!加油!加油!", which was hilarious, and very, very Singaporean. When Malaysia's final ball went straight into Lionel's arms, he was redeemed and the stadium went INSANE. Screaming, shouting, stamping, cheering, throwing, paper airplanes made out of the stiff Nike posters came raining down on us, and the celebration started in earnest (as well as the exodus.)

We took about half an hour to get out of the stadium, and then it started to rain immediately after we got out, which was a lucky thing. Too bad we got stuck in traffic for half an hour (which is considered very fast already, according to my friends), thanks to the SHE concert ending at the same time as us, thus causing a major traffic snarl. But like I said: the Kallang Roar was worth it.

The Kallang Wave

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[Singapore vs Malaysia: Asean Championships Semifinals at National Stadium]
Sngs Alumni @ 28.1.07 { 0 comments }


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