Dollah loves a big crowd

- PHOTO: REUTERS

Before the start of the AFF Suzuki Cup, Malaysia coach Dollah Salleh insisted that the prospect of playing in front of a full house at the 55,000-capacity National Stadium when the Tigers faced arch-rivals Singapore did not worry him.

Tomorrow, Malaysia will play in the stadium for the first time, and will walk out into a hothouse atmosphere with possibly more than 40,000 fans roaring on their opponents in their final Group B clash, but Dollah continued his theme yesterday when he told The New Paper it will hardly be a problem for his men.

After a training session at the Bishan Stadium yesterday, Dollah (above) threw down the gauntlet.

Said the 51-year-old: "It's a must-win match for us. With Thailand already through, a draw will do us no good. We need to go all out.

"I'm not afraid at all. Big crowds don't bother me. My players are used to big crowds in the Malaysian Super League, and in fact, I enjoy playing in front of a full stadium.

"You look up at the stands, and you see fans all around the stadium, and it makes you feel good. I know that my players can match the levels of enthusiasm showed by the fans."

Despite his side sitting second from bottom in Group B, and key midfielder S Kunanlan nursing a knock sustained during the Tigers' 3-2 loss to Thailand on Wednesday, Dollah has no plans to divert from his usual game plan - attack.

"Our plan is simple - attack and win. I said before the Thailand game that our strikers would come good, and then Amri Yahyah scored, so we need to keep attacking," he said.

"So that's what we need to do, to get goals. Some, like Kunanlan, are not fully fit, but whatever line-up we field, we'll be going for the win from the start."

Dollah did hint, though, that his men would keep a close eye on Shaiful Esah, the left back who he has identified as the Lions' dangerman due to his set-piece prowess.

Left-footed Shaiful scored twice and produced one assist off set-pieces against Myanmar on Wednesday.

For Dollah, fouls outside the penalty area are a definite no-no.

"We have to be careful. We have studied Singapore's game against Myanmar and I have to say that Shaiful poses the biggest threat to us.

"Singapore are set-piece specialists and they always score from such situations.

"But we are more than able to keep up because we have tall centre-backs like Afif Amiruddin (1.86m) and Fadhli Shas (1.80m)."

Even with Singapore star defender Baihakki Khaizan suspended, and midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman sidelined with a broken ankle, Dollah maintained no team held any sort of advantage.

"Singapore and Malaysia play each other year in, year out. We know each other's tactics, weaknesses and strengths," he said.

"I'm not saying it will be an easy game, because Singapore have home advantage.

"What matters is how the players play, because the key here is to simply outplay each other."

Football fever, Singamania style

Singapore fan group vows to be red, loud and proud

ALL FOR ONE: SingaMania is made up of several fan groups. Members went wild (above) after Hariss Harun scored against Myanmar on Wednesday.
ALL FOR ONE: SingaMania (above) is made up of several fan groups. Members went wild after Hariss Harun scored against Myanmar on Wednesday.
A 20m by 15m banner provided by FAS.

Loud and enthusiastic home fans are a common sight in any football-mad nation.

Many countries have an official fan group, sometimes called the "ultras" - the most dedicated bunch who can be easily spotted wearing uniform colours, they are the loudest in their home ground and stick by their team through thick and thin.

During Singapore's last two Suzuki Cup matches at the National Stadium, SingaMania was prominent in the stands, wearing blood-red, singing and paying homage to their heroes throughout the games.

SingaMania is made up of a few smaller fan groups like ExcluSinga, King George's Hooligans, Grandstand Maki Kakis and fans from S.League clubs like Balestier Khalsa, Tampines Rovers and Warriors FC.

Last Thursday, before the start of the Suzuki Cup, and with the National Stadium's distinctive dome as an imposing backdrop, a group of about 30 members gave The New Paper a preview of what they've put together for the tournament, and sang their signature "Satu Nada" ("One Voice" in Malay) chant.

"Our chants are quite simple. They are the usual ones that we always sing at Jalan Besar Stadium during LionsXII matches, so I believe other fans will be aware of them," said Syed Faris, one of the leaders of SingaMania.

SPONTANEOUS

"We also do impromptu chants and synchronised hand movements. We sing them over and over again, so after a while, other fans in the stadium pick them up and start singing, too."

"The chants are very contagious. A while back, 'Satu Nada' was sung once at a match, and fans immediately started singing it at every game."

The SingaMania die-hards will be seated at the National Stadium's East Stand when the Lions take on Causeway rivals Malaysia tomorrow and they will take up the entire section which they have nicknamed as the SingaMania Curva.

They will unfurl the large banner seen in the matches against Thailand and Myanmar, and the group will once again hold aloft the Singapore flag measuring 10 metres in length just before kick off, during the singing of Majulah Singapura.

The group, who have numbered around 700 for the Suzuki Cup, will have eight sets of drums to liven up the atmosphere.

They have some other plans for tomorrow's Causeway Derby, but declined to reveal much, saying only that they have a "special chant" when the match gets underway.

SingaMania maintains a strong online presence by posting regular updates and photos and videos, giving fans a platform to learn about the group's latest developments and new chants.

Faris, though, believes it will be difficult to see a National Stadium crowd coming close to being as loud as that of famed arenas like Anfield or Borussia Dortmund's Westfalenstadion.

"The fans of old grew up in an era where noise was made mainly to insult the referee or other players. It's time to leave that behind.

SING FOR 90 MINUTES

"Other countries have their own songs which they sing for 90 minutes, so we're moving towards that," said the 26-year-old.

"We've been around for only a short period of time, but we're going in the right direction.

"We aim to have our own ultras, just like every other country.

"Look at the games in the English Premier League or the Bundesliga. The fans never sit down. They're always standing, singing. That's our aim."

Another member, Hidayat Hassan, agreed.

He hopes the group will be able to help unite fans and create just the right atmosphere for the Lions.

Said the 25 year-old: "People always say that football fans back then were much better. Yes, we don't deny that, but what's so great about standing up every five minutes to shout at the referee and then sit back down?

"That was the norm back then. But we don't want opposition fans to come to our National Stadium and make more noise than us. That shouldn't be the case.

"So I hope that this can be a call to unite Singaporeans from all walks of life to join in our movement and make us louder than we've ever been."

That is what Faris is looking forward to when the Lions take on the Tigers, with the hope that a must-win clash can add to the pressure-cooker atmosphere in the stadium.

"A semi-final place is at stake, so I'm sure that the atmosphere will be amazing," he said.

"Singaporeans have to unite and cheer on the Lions together. I want to see all of them singing, not just for five minutes, but also throughout the match, if possible.

"Besides, we're playing against Malaysia. What more do you need!"

We grew up in an era where fans made noise mainly to insult the referee or other players. It’s time to leave that behind.

— Syed Faris, one of the leaders of Singamania

What they have in store

  • A 20m by 15m banner provided by FAS that will be displayed in the stands
  • A 10m by 10m Singapore flag held aloft during the singing of the national anthem at every match.
  • A total of eight drums to add to the noise in the stadium.
  • 1,000 pieces of red-and-white paper that SingaMania will hold up during tomorrow’s Singapore-Malaysia match, or the semi-finals (if the Lions go through).

KNOW THE CHANT

Satu nada, satu suara

Satu nada, satu bangsa

dan negara, satu Singapura*

Yo ayuh ayuh, ayuh ayuh Singapura

Yo ayuh ayuh ayuh, ayuh ayuh Singapura

Yo ayuh ayuh, ayuh ayuh Singapura

Yo ayuh ayuh ayuh, ayuh ayuh Singapura

Did you know?

In this series called Did you know? members of our pioneer generation share their interesting experiences.

MUSIC LOVERS: Mr Mashruddin Shaharuddin (left) with his son, Mr Nizaruddin Mashruddin.
Premium content not available

He keeps latest iPhones safe

Certis Cisco officer who guards cash and valuables is armed at all times

"We never let our guard down on any assignment as there is always a certain danger and risk involved." - Corporal Mohammad Faizal Sinal
Premium content not available

Cassis Oolong back in suitable class

Premium content not available

The great clean-up

Myanmar fans clear up trash left behind at National Stadium despite national team's loss

CIVIC-MINDED: Myanmar fans brought their own trash bags to collect the rubbish.
CIVIC-MINDED: Myanmar fans brought their own trash bags to collect the rubbish.
THOROUGH:The fans helped pick up rubbish from the area where they sat.
COMMENDABLE: The considerate actions of the Myanmar fans have drawn praise from many quarters.
COMMENDABLE: The considerate actions of the Myanmar fans have drawn praise from many quarters.
Premium content not available

Wilshere out for three months

Premium content not available

Arsenal not out of the woods despite sealing qualification

How Arsenal and Arsene Wenger needed this result.

It was not just a 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund, it was a comfortable 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund.

It was not just qualification for the knockout stage of the Champions League, it was the 15th consecutive qualification for the knockout stage of the Champions League.

This was a most serendipitous time for Wenger to highlight his historical consistency.

Arsenal took the lead after just 75 seconds, through the unlikely figure of Yaya Sanogo, and then did something they have struggled with all season: They held on to it.

Read the full report in our print edition on Nov 28.

Subscribe to The New Paper, now available in print and digital, at http://bit.ly/tnpeshop.

Stellar line-up for Hong Kong's four international races

Premium content not available

Grant is new boss of Ghana

Premium content not available

Pages