So many things had happened in Singapore the past week. We had just sworn in our 7th President, a weekend of freak results happening in London, the crazy transfer window in Europe (as usual), and our beloved Lions getting mauled by the referee in Kunming, China, in the 3rd round of World Cup qualifiers.
First up, our football team. In order to prepare for this opening match in China, specially utilized the re-breathers loaned from Singapore Sports Council to help them in their training for high altitude performance. They even went a week earlier to Kunming to acclimatize. But one thing to note, why did China chose to play this match at Kunming, when they have world class facilities in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and many more places.? Are they really scared of being beaten by us that they specifically chose an high altitude are? In the group, I believe Iraq will be more of a problem and Jordan may be the dark horse, compared to us.
While watching the match, our Lions did started well and I believed that they could actually upset the Great Wall. However just minutes into the game, you can see the pitch tearing up and it really spoils the flow of good football match. As the game goes on, the pitch became worse and China seemed to be able to play better in these conditions. The Lions held their own ground and was able to match the Chinese. Sure China was unlucky in the first half by striking the post twice and giving away an easy goal to us. But they did come back way stronger in the 2nd half, determined to get a result. Nevertheless, they were also helped by way below standard refereeing. He definitely had a hand in costing our victory.
This also brought me to wonder, how does FIFA or AFC appoint referees. This may not be a crunch match between 2 top nations, but it's still a World Cup Qualifier, the top runged competition in football. I may not have seen much S-League matches, but I believe he may not even be suited to referee our own local games.
Just to point out some positives on the game, Qiu Li seemed to be a man on a mission to show what China had missed out on a gem, I was rather touched to see his passion running high throughout the whole game. Alexander Duric also showed why at the age of 41, he's still leading the front line. 1 thing I couldn't really understand was why did the Lions sit back in the 2nd half and let the Chinese have a go at them. Their midfield was non-existence and they did created a few chances, they all came at the expense of the Chinese giving away silly mistakes. They will need to up their game against Iraq, which I believe will be more of a physical game.
Seriously, I believed we could have got the win yesterday. However all is not lost yet. If we can give the mighty Chinese a big scare, I believe we may just be able to show more results along the qualifiers. Even the second favourite, Zico-led Iraq, lost to Jordan, nothing can be certain.