Slorach the 'surprise' leader
Irfan rescues Young Lions against Harimau Muda
COURTS YOUNG LIONS 1
(Irfan Fandi Ahmad 88)
HARIMAU MUDA 1
(Syahrul Azwari 2)
It was a scrappy effort, and he will almost certainly score many better goals, but Irfan Fandi Ahmad will remember last night's poacher's effort for a long time.
After all, his 88th-minute equaliser against Harimau Muda at the Jalan Besar Stadium was the Courts Young Lions striker's first professional goal in six appearances in the Great Eastern Yeo's S.League.
Coming on as a 60th-minute substitute for Shahfiq Ghani, Irfan pounced after Taufik Suparno's cross from the right wing was flicked on by Fadli Kamis.
Speaking to The New Paper after the game, the 18-year-old said: "It always feels good to score and it makes it a bit special to get one against our traditional rivals in a Causeway Derby.
"After coming on, I was just trying my best to do something for the team to get us back into the game."
Irfan's goal was the first and only Young Lions shot on target in a highly charged and fast-paced game that both teams wanted to win.
Syahrul Azwari stunned the hosts when he lashed in from the edge of the area within 70 seconds of the kick-off after the Young Lions failed to clear a long throw.
The Young Tigers proceeded to defend stoutly for the remainder of the match, with Akhir Bahari and Adam Nor standing out in midfield.
They managed the feat until Irfan intervened.
But Young Lions coach Juergen Raab conceded that his team did not play well.
"They couldn't handle the pressure, knowing that it's in our hands and feet to move up to seventh if we had won," he said.
"We were all motivated, but the shock from conceding so early doubled the pressure. We tried to find a solution but we could not manage it.
"We have to learn from this.
"You could see it was not our style as we made so many mistakes.
"But our players did not give up and tried to win until the very end."
The German paid tribute to Irfan, saying: "He has an unbelievable body (1.88m tall) for a Singaporean, and if he continues working on his skills, I'm sure he will be important for the teams he plays for.
"He is strong in headers, but we have to learn not just to play long balls to him. We want to be flexible in our style of play."
Irfan revealed that he is unlikely to head to Chile and sign for Universidad Catolica as he will most likely enlist and complete National Service before pursuing a professional football career overseas.
"I just returned from calf surgery in July and started playing competitively only this month," he said.
"I still feel I'm lacking in terms of fitness and agility, and I hope to get back to full fitness and play more games.
"I have been training with this team since the start of the year and I feel comfortable with them.
"It's been a long while since I scored, so this is a boost for me and I'm definitely looking forward to scoring more goals in our remaining matches."
COURTS YOUNG LIONS: Syazwan Buhari, Fadli Kamis, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Amirul Adli, Safirul Sulaiman, Sherif El-Masri, M Anumanthan, Afiq Mat Noor (Amy Recha 68), Jordan Webb, Shahfiq Ghani (Irfan Fandi Ahmad 60), Taufik Suparno
HARIMAU MUDA: Ilham Amirullah, Azrul Nizam Muhd (Ashmawi Yakin 86), Kenny Pallraj, Annas Rahmat, Ariff Farhan, Akhir Bahari, Adam Nor, Irfan Zakaria, Syahrul Azwari (Arif Anwar 69), Kumaahran Sathasivam, Faizat Ghazali.
TNP MAN OF THE MATCH: AKHIR BAHARI (Harimau Muda)
Slingers lose opener
Bencherifa plans to restore Warriors' glory
Newly appointed Warriors coach KARIM BENCHERIFA has made an instant impact, after guiding his team to a 2-0 win over Hougang in his first match in charge on Monday. He developed a tremendous reputation in India, and here he tells DAVID LEE how he intends to plot more joy for the most successful club in the history of the S.League
1 After almost 10 years in India, why have you decided to come back to the S.League? And why Warriors FC?
KARIM BENCHERIFA: I have never lost touch with Singapore or football here. I visit almost on a monthly basis and I go to stadiums to watch S.League matches.
Though I was very comfortable in India as I enjoyed lot of success there, I had to come back to be with my kids - an eight-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl - who are Singapore citizens and studying here, so Singapore is also home for me.
Why Warriors FC? The simple answer is that we are one of the best clubs, if not the best, in Singapore.
2 The players you have inherited have had a good relationship with previous coach Alex Weaver and they won the S.League title together. What have you told them?
I am aware of the good work that Alex did here and I want to carry on from here and achieve good things at this prestigious club.
It's not easy to take over a club in mid-season, and it's even harder when it's near the end of the season, but I'm quite lucky because there is very good unity, professionalism and team spirit in the squad and this creates a healthy atmosphere.
3 What is your coaching philosophy and what can we expect from your team for the rest of the season and in 2016?
My coaching philosophy is simple - a football team need four pillars to perform consistently.
They are quality players, high level of fitness, a good game plan that suits the players and a healthy team spirit.
To perform consistently throughout the season, it is not enough even to have three out of the four pillars.
My daily job is to try and improve each one of the principles mentioned above. And if we manage to make use of the four pillars in each game, then you can expect good surprises from us.
4 The Warriors are almost certainly out of this year's title race. How can the club win it back next season?
We are not thinking about the title right now. We just have to focus on each game without being distracted and try our best and let's see how far we can go.
As for next season, I don't think it's the right time to think about it as we still have matches to play this season.
5 Since your time at Tanjong Pagar United and Woodlands Wellington, you have earned a reputation for being a coach who is able to turn around fortunes of under-performing clubs. Can you share with us some of these results, including those in India, and tell us how you do it?
I joined Floriana FC in Malta in 2001 when they were doing badly halfway into the season. We then won seven games in a row, played and won the Centenary Cup final.
My first taste of the S.League was with Tanjong Pagar in 2004, who lost all the 11 games they played under two previous coaches. I took the team on two unbeaten runs and was nominated for Coach of the Year.
The following year, I joined Woodlands after they won only once in five games and we went on a 14-game unbeaten streak right away. We played in the Singapore Cup final and fought for the league title until the last game. Until now, it is still the best season in the club's history.
I also had success in India with Mohun Bagan in 2008. For almost a decade they didn't win anything, but I came in and we won three trophies, finished second in the league and played in the AFC Cup. I was also voted Coach of the Year by the media.
With Salgaocar, they had not won the I-League for 12 years. I took over in 2010 with the team second from bottom. We prevented relegation and won the league and cup double the following season and played in the AFC Cup.
Last year, I was in charge of Pune, who were a young team that had previously never played in a final in their history, and we made it to the Durand Cup and King's Cup (Bhutan) final.
There are some achievements which I am very proud of, but a lot of credit must go to all those players who were involved in the clubs I have coached.
Like I said, it wasn't just about me. To succeed, we need quality players, a high level of fitness, a good game plan that suits the players and healthy team spirit.
All or nothing for Tampines
Stags must beat DPMM to keep alive title hopes
BRUNEI DPMM v TAMPINES
(Tonight, 8.15pm, Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium)
This is it. Or is it? A win for the Bruneians will open up a 12-point gap on rivals Tampines, with the Stags having just five games left.
This is why it is all-or-nothing for V Sundramoorthy's men, who seemed to have found their mojo at the right time with five wins in their last six league matches.
In fact, it is all in the Singaporean team's hands - win their remaining six league games and score enough goals, and they can pip Brunei DPMM on goal difference, assuming Steve Kean's men lose tonight and go on to win their last three matches.
Talk is easy though, as DPMM have lost just one S.League match all season at Bandar Seri Begawan and have scored in every home game.
Besides Balestier, who won in Brunei, only Home United (twice) and Hougang United have brought back a point, but a draw will be of no use to Tampines who have yet to beat DPMM this season.
I'm backing Tampines based on ability and form, but also because I would like the title race to go all the way in what has been a pretty decent 20th S.League season.
- Prediction: Take Tampines to win and over 2.5 Goals
WARRIORS v ALBIREX
(Friday, 7.30pm, Choa Chu Kang Stadium)
For a stats lover, imagine my excitement when new Warriors coach Karim Bencherifa texted me after his first game in charge ended with a 2-0 win over Hougang United: "First clean sheet in 12 league games... boys magic."
Indeed, it is utterly shocking to see defending champions Warriors FC having the league's worst defensive record - their 40 goals conceded are two more than cellar-dwellers Geylang United.
But somehow, Bencherifa has steadied the ship almost immediately, as his players secured only their fourth S.League clean sheet this season.
Coincidentally, their opponents this week also managed to turn things around, snapping a five-game winless streak by beating Geylang 2-0, only the sixth time they have scored two goals in a league match this season.
With the league title well out of their hands, this match could turn out to be a damp squib, although previous encounters this season have swung wildly from a 6-0 win for the White Swans - the only AOS this season - to a 4-0 win for the Warriors.
Warriors striker Fazrul Nawaz is still in with a good shout for the Golden Boot, but this should be an even contest that sticks to Albirex's recent run of 10 consecutive matches under 2.5 goals.
- Prediction: Take draw and under 2.5 Goals
GEYLANG v HOME
(Friday, 7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
Congratulations to Philippe Aw and his Home United team for creating this season's longest unbeaten streak, which is still alive and running at 10 games.
This is remarkable for a coach taking charge of a senior team for the first time, and for a team that have had to cope with injuries throughout the season.
But whenever they were able to field their best 11, like they did in the 2-0 win over title-contenders Balestier Khalsa, they have looked very polished. If the S.League started only after the SEA Games, Home United would surely have been front-runners.
However, they find themselves in the bottom half, and time is running out for them to reach their top-three target. They also have the second leg of the RHB Singapore Cup to think about, where they have a realistic chance of winning silverware.
Could this open the door for last-placed Geylang to try to get some points on board in their fight against gravity?
Unfortunately, I don't think so. Just one win in 13 games is plain horrible form and, while I believe the Geylang players are capable of better results, I'm not sure whether the demoralised Eagles can lift themselves up to avoid finishing last for the first time in history.
- Prediction: Take Home United to win and over 2.5 Goals
Movie date: Burnt (NC16)
Guys will devour what Burnt is serving, but it may not go down as well with the female palate.
STARRING: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Brühl, Emma Thompson, Alicia Vikander
DIRECTOR: John Wells
THE SKINNY: Adam Jones (Cooper) is a two-star Michelin chef who loses it all after becoming a drug addicted diva. After cleaning up his act, he tries to mend bridges, reclaim his reputation and seek that elusive third star with the help of his long-suffering friend Tony (Brühl) and protege Helene (Miller).
MARS By JASON JOHNSON
Cooper is best playing jerks.
He has always looked like a jerk, and he's totally believable as the imperious Jones.
One of my favourite scenes is where he scolds his underlings after they blow their big opening night.
With his cruel, vulpine eyes and his wide, predatory mouth, he really sells the snarling and snapping.
I've been on both sides of such encounters, I really enjoy the crackle of energy.
When people are passionate about their work, they can go a bit psycho.
In my opinion, this is how great work often gets done.
One gets the sense that the same exacting standards were applied to the film itself.
Intense, insightful and fast-moving, Burnt is a well-wrought picture.
I'm not a big fan of director Wells - I truly hated his 2013 family drama August: Osage County - but this veteran of film and television is obviously a total pro.
Plot is tight, characters are distinct and cinematography is unfussy.
I bought in to the narrative completely. By the end I was practically praying for Cooper's hateful chef to come out tops.
Maybe I was won over by that scene where he bakes a birthday cake for a little girl.
Manipulative? Yes, but that's okay. Sucker that I am, I was touched.
VENUS By JOANNE SOH
The question that really bugs me is this: Are chefs really that arrogant?
It seems like a foregone conclusion as everyone accepts Jones' unsavoury trait simply because "he's a chef".
When was shucking oysters considered hard labour and penance for the lives and businesses he ruined?
Because he's an acclaimed chef, everyone has to kowtow to him?
Despite the food porn montages and the messages about redemption and rehabilitation, Burnt is just one egotist's quest for more fame and adulation.
It's like an episode of reality TV series Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, except with more star power.
Cooper looks the part - barking orders and smashing plates. But he's no Gordon Ramsay, who has more charisma and wit.
It's not all Cooper's fault.
The script is so bland, ironic for a movie that revolves around cooking the most creative food resulting in "culinary orgasm".
Why pack the film with so much talent?
Miller is impressive but merely plays the requisite love interest. Same goes for Vikander, who is relegated to the pretty ex-girlfriend, while Brühl has a decent part that's never fully explored.
They are like garnishes - upping the visual impact but not quite adding to the dish.
THE CONSENSUS: Guys will devour what Burnt is serving, but it may not go down as well with the female palate.
Trial win places Huka Falls right in the mix
Final spot not good enough
Music keeps her positive
In the final part of our four-part Levi's series on local women in music, we catch up with singer-DJ Daphne Khoo
Local singer-radio DJ Daphne Khoo has come a long way since she finished fourth in the inaugural season of reality TV singing competition Singapore Idol in 2004.
The 28-year-old former frontwoman of local indie rock outfit West Grand Boulevard released her debut album, Desperate, in 2007, followed by her EP, Wonderland, last year.
This year, her song, Greatest, was featured on Songs Of The Games, the official album of the 28th South-east Asian (SEA) Games.
It had always been her dream to pursue a career in music - and even cancer did not stop her.
In 2012, Khoo had her left ovary and fallopian tube removed, along with a 13cm tumour next to the ovary, after she was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer.
At the time, she was a student at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston and had to undergo nine weeks of chemotherapy.
The following year, she was diagnosed with stage zero cervical cancer.
Despite the setbacks, Khoo continues to adopt a positive attitude towards life, at times using music and songwriting to help her cope.
Weak from Wonderland was the first song you wrote after undergoing chemotherapy. What was the message behind it?
It is to remind myself that it is okay not to be the strongest version of myself that I can be. Usually, I am a positive person and always hustling. But after chemotherapy, I dealt with losing my hair and felt far from beautiful.
It also brought me back to when I was in school and struggled with fitting in. On Idol, I had my fair share of haters. So it also brought back feelings from those times, no matter how much I tried to stay optimistic.
As a female musician, have you ever experienced gender inequality?
Not at all. I don't even think it's a thing any more. It's about collaborating and working together to make beautiful music because we need each other. The "bloodbath" nature of the industry is not true, there is no competition. And if someone is really good, I look up to him as an inspiration and I am happy for him.
What is your greatest challenge as a musician?
Finding my own sound. You go through life wondering who you are. Even things like your favourite food and colour change with time. I'm still finding the best way I can impact the world and talk to people through my music. It's a lot about knowing yourself and I'd like to think I'm getting closer to finding out.
How did your involvement with EDM (electronic dance music) - in songs like Higher with English DJ Paul Oakenfold and Canadian duo Project 46, as well as Louder with German DJs Paul Van Dyk and Roger Shah - come about?
This was when I was undergoing chemotherapy and I couldn't go out much. I would write the top lines - lyrics and melody - and send them out to the DJs, who would record the beats and send them back.
When I lived in New York last year, I wrote the top lines with two friends in Louder, which was featured in (Van Dyk's 2015) album, The Politics Of Dancing 3. We did not hear from him for a long time until one day my friend said we "got it in the bag". That was really exciting.
What are some of your upcoming projects?
I will be releasing an EDM single with local DJ Atran called Find Me. The collaboration has been a long time coming. I will also be releasing a pop single that is still untitled.
But right now, I am focusing on releasing YouTube videos (of both covers and originals). It is a great way to test the waters and see what people like, like a focus group of sorts.