BEST BET: BEST TOTHELIGN (RACE 10 NO. 1)

Save the best for last

LAST-START WINNER: Best Tothelign, fending off Angry Cat on Nov 2, is set to win again in today’s last race.
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Mardan's on Cloud 9

Singaporean leads by four in Manila with first sub-200 over three rounds in 'majors'

LOOKING GOOD: Mardan Mamat (above) is primed for his fourth career Asian Tour win.
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Cherie strikes in Korea, again

Cherie Tan.
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Jasmine ends drought, Saw sews it up

WINNERS: From far left to right, Men's Open winner Keith Saw, Singapore Bowling Federation president Jessie Phua, Canon Singapore senior vice-president of domestic operations group Melvyn Ho and Women's Open winner Jasmine Yeong-Nathan.
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S.League reverse age cap

Qiu Li.
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The 12th man speaks

We ask you, the fans, to say why Singapore can win the Suzuki Cup for a fifth time. Here are your views...

FULL BACKING: Singapore captain Shahril Ishak taking a selfie with fans after a friendly match against Cambodia at the National Stadium. Tonight, supporters are set to flood the new stadium, just like how they did it at the old National Stadium (above).

FULL BACKING: Singapore captain Shahril Ishak (above) taking a selfie with fans after a friendly match against Cambodia at the National Stadium. Tonight, supporters are set to flood the new stadium, just like how they did it at the old National Stadium.


The name SINGAPORE says it all:

SUPPORTIVE FANS

DETERMINATION 

INSPIRATION 

STRONG SQUAD

ASPIRATION TO DEFEND TITLE

POSITIVITY

HOPE

HARDWORK 

TEAMWORK

- Herianti Samsudin

Stange is the man whom we've entrusted with our best,

Igniting our Lions to play like men possessed.

No more excuses cos we're at home,

Grand big dome where we'll defend our throne.

Attack without fear for we've our Fab Five,

Potent strikeforce which will skin all alive.

Oh, and don't forget, we've got Hariss,

Rearguard protector who'll make sure they all miss.

Expect nothing less, than the fifth star on our chest!

- Jeffrey Low Kai Syang

Rest of Asean, be wary!

In goal, we've got Mr Reliable, Hassan Sunny.

Upfront, there's the fast and nippy Khairul Amri,

trading passes with Shahril Ishak, our Captain Mighty.

No more Raddy? Don't worry.

Donning the performance-boosting Nike jersey, Lions, Just Do It and go for Suzuki Cup glory!

- Tay Chian Yong

WHAT THE OTHER FANS SAY

Underdogs? No flair players? Young and inexperienced? No match for regional neighbours?

Bring it on! All the detractors and naysayers will only serve to galvanise our boys.

Hear the Lions roar, backed up by the 12th man in our own den!

- Lim Wan Ling

The Lions will win the Suzuki Cup because a lot is at stake.

Besides national pride, the Lions have the opportunity to make history by winning their first major tournament at the new National Stadium. A victory will also give Singaporeans much cheer as we celebrate 50 years of independence next year.

- Phoebe Wong Yen Qing

The Lions are on the prowl,

The Lions are going to show their true prowess,

The Lions are going on the hunt and attack their prey in their own den,

The fans will roar them on and the Cup will be theirs.

- Annadurai V

Singapore can win the Suzuki Cup for a fifth time because of:

1) The coach. With Bernd Stange at the helm, our opponents will be overwhelmed!

2) The players. With a great blend of old and new, our hopes will be renewed!

3) The 12th man. As our new stadium welcomes the fans, all our opponents will pee in their pants!

- Elton Tham

I strongly believe the current team have what it takes to win the Suzuki Cup for a fifth time.

First, the Lions have a balanced squad of exciting young talent and experienced players.

What I am most proud about the current side is that all the players are local-born, without relying on foreign talent.

Credit goes to the FAS and the current coach Bernd Stange for grooming young talented players such as Faris Ramli.

With the new National Stadium, the loyal supporters will become the Lions' 12th man.

Lastly, with Singapore co-hosting the Suzuki Cup, it will encourage our team to give their very best and win the Cup to celebrate our 50th birthday next year.

- Maliki Ismail

Singapore will win the Suzuki Cup because we have a very good mix of young and senior players.

With our participation in the Malaysian Super League, some of the national players who are also LionsXII players have the experience of playing in front of big crowds.

Lastly, we will have the 12th man. The Kallang Roar will definitely be back!

- Badrul Hisham bin Jahir

Semangat will carry the Lions to their fifth title.

The Kallang Roar will spur the Lions to put the fifth star on their jerseys to signify 50 years of nation building.

A 100 per cent local-born team will put the icing on the birthday cake.

- David Tan Kok Kheng

Under Bernd Stange, the current Lions are more of a mixture of youth and experience.

With more younger players, the emphasis is on speed which will match our opponents, especially Thailand.

Judging from recent matches, the Lions play a more possession brand of football instead of long balls, and that is crucial in international matches.

- Ang Kwan Yang

The Lions must summon the bravery, courage and determination and turn the new National Stadium into a fortress which will strike fear into our opponents.

It's the right time to lift the Suzuki Cup for a fifth time on our home soil in front of our own supporters. Majulah Singapura!

- Hassan Basri Sofwan

We will win the Suzuki Cup for a fifth time because of:

  • National coach Bernd Stange. It takes time for the Lions to adapt to his ideas but I believe they have done that and are peaking at the right time for their title defence.
  • New National Stadium. The supporters will be out in full force like the old Kallang days.
  • Strong leadership - Shahril Ishak and Hariss Harun form the backbone of the team.
  • And, of course, there's Khairul Amri, our lucky striker who has scored in three finals.

- Aaron Huang

As a die-hard local football fan, I grew up watching the likes of the late Dollah Kassim and Quah Kim Song.

I have full confidence in our young but extremely committed Lions.

Our coach Bernd Stange and his backroom staff will ensure that we will be crowned kings of Asean football for a fifth time.

Moreover, the Lions will be made up of 22 local-born players, all trying their very best to bring glory and honour to themselves, their families and their country.

What a way to celebrate our 50th birthday next year by winning the Suzuki Cup!

- Richard Tham Kah Soon

Singapore can win the Suzuki Cup for a fifth time.

Bernd Stange's brand of football with crisp passing and quick tempo can easily demolish opponents.

We have game-changers in the team and, most importantly, our vociferous 12th man will motivate our Lions to go for goals.

- Donald Chew

Singapore have experienced heads guiding the exciting young talents. This creates a right balance.

Also, having an all-Singaporean team with no foreign-born players will spur on the players even more.

The 12th man at full voice will prove the crucial difference.

- Sarish Singh Mohar

Singapore can win the Suzuki Cup for the fifth time because we have the five stars shining on us.

The five stars on our flag. It represents our resilience, teamwork, honour, passion and courage.

- Carol Jacinta Lim Yin Shan

Dollah plays it cool

Despite poor results and vitriol, he believes Tigers are moving in the right direction

CAMARADERIE: Under-fire Malaysia coach Dollah Salleh (above, right) received words of support from his Myanmar counterpart Raddy Avramovic (above, right).

MALAYSIA v MYANMAR

(Today, 5pm, SingTel mio TV Ch 114 & StarHub TV Ch 208)

Malaysia coach Dollah Salleh is as cool as they come.

He may be under fire after losing four of his first five international matches since he took over the reins of the Tigers in June.

But the 51-year-old former international striker is not panicking as the 2010 AFF (Asean Football Federation) Suzuki Cup champions prepare to open their campaign against Myanmar at Jalan Besar Stadium today.

After yesterday's pre-tournament press conference, he was seen shooting the breeze with Malaysian journalists outside the M Hotel, where all the Group B teams doing battle here are based.

Later, he shared an elevator with The New Paper, and when we commented on his calmness, he smiled: "Must relax, lah. Why be so stressed?"

Earlier, he was equally unflappable at the press conference.

When asked about his team's poor run-up to the tournament - in addition to bad results, two of Dollah's first 11 players were ruled out through injury - he said: "Yes, we lost four of our five friendlies, but I believe in our players.

"And, in our last game against Vietnam (a 3-1 defeat), I think our performance showed we are getting there.

MORE EFFECTIVE

"The players look more effective compared to the first week they were with me.

"Anyway, we have to put aside our results in friendlies now."

Dollah has support from two more experienced rivals in Group B.

Singapore coach Bernd Stange, who has led Hertha Berlin, Oman, Iraq and Belarus, said people should realise Malaysia's friendly results "do not matter"

He believes the Tigers will perform differently when in competition mode.

And Myanmar coach Raddy Avramovic - who guided Kuwait and Singapore previously, and will cross swords with Dollah tonight - urged Malaysians to give their coach more time.

Putting his arm on Dollah's back, Avramovic quipped: "I hope he's as good a coach as he was a player.

"It's difficult for every new coach, especially in his case because he lost a few games and everybody judges him on that.

"But like all coaches, he needs some time to do something. He's in a position now to build a good team. He has a good base, a lot of experienced players. But he needs time."

While in charge of Singapore, Avramovic lost just twice in 13 Causeway derbies against Malaysia, and did not lose in five encounters on Singapore soil.

He hopes that personal record will continue tonight, but brushes aside any suggestion he holds the secret to beating the Tigers.

THE PAST

"That's in the past, it's already gone," said Avramovic, when asked about his successes against Malaysia as Singapore coach, including a 3-0 win in Kuala Lumpur two years ago during the Suzuki Cup group stage.

"It's different now. All those Malaysian players, they are two years older now, and a lot more experienced.

"We will try to compete. But it's very difficult to say, 'Oh, we know how to play against Malaysia.'"

He added: "Now is a question about where we are compared to Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia. For many years, they kept (dominance in the region) that way.

"Now it's a challenge for us to see if we can reach them. Can we reach that level? We will see."

Dream team mark ii?

Kiatisuk's charges have the potential to dominate for a decade like his 1990s vintage

YOUTHFUL: Kiatisuk Senamuang's Thai side has an average age of 24.1.
YOUTHFUL: Kiatisuk Senamuang's (above) Thai side has an average age of 24.1.
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No pitch work for teams

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Thailand's big-name players will be too good for Lions, says Therdsak Chaiman

Kiatisuk has special talent in his team whom the Lions will struggle to stop

Therdsak Chaiman.
Kroekrit Thaweekarn.
Adisak Kraisorn.

I spoke to Kiatisuk Senamuang when we played for the Thailand Masters against the Liverpool Masters earlier this month.

He told me he picked a young team because he wanted continuity after a successful Asian Games campaign where his side finished fourth.

He felt the players in that team already had a good understanding, confidence, hunger and teamwork. The average age of the Thai team may be around 24 years, but inexperience is not a problem because many of them have played together for a long time. 

Twelve of them were in the 2013 South-east Asia (SEA) Games winning team and 11 of them played at the Asian Games this year when they reached the semi-finals.

MIDFIELD CREATIVITY

Look out for Charyl Chappuis and Chanathip Songkrasin, the two most creative players in the team. Charyl is a very clever player who likes to release his teammates with quick one-touch passes. He also likes to make runs into the box and his bursts of speed can easily win free-kicks and penalties.

They don't call Chanathip "Messi Jay" back home for nothing. He may be only 1.58m but he has very quick feet and reads the game well. He is an exciting player who can score and create. He has also earned trials in the J-League with Gamba Osaka and Shimizu S-Pulse. He has been so impressive that he could possibly join Bundesliga club Hamburg next season.

WING ATTACK

Singapore have strong tacklers so Thailand have to beat them with fast football. I wouldn't know Kiatisuk's first 11, but Mongkol Tossakrai and Kroekrit Thaweekarn have the ability to create many problems from the wings with their pace. 

The only weakness for this team is over-confidence. They are young, and this is the first senior tournament for some of the younger players after some success at the Under-23 level. I can tell them that this is not an easy tournament, because they have to handle the pressure of playing the hosts in the first match.

STRIKING OPTIONS

I would pick Kirati Keawsombut to start over Adisak Kraisorn because Kirati is very strong and very good in the box and he is very good at scoring headers. Remember how he scored one against Singapore in the second leg of the final in 2012?

Maybe Singapore are building for the future, so they dropped all their foreign-born players like Mustafic Fahrudin, Aleksandar Duric and Daniel Bennett, who I think can still contribute with their experience and physique. But the Lions could have a problem without them, and Kirati can capitalise with his strength.

SECRET WEAPON

(Centre forward Adisak Kraisorn, 23, 3 caps, 4 goals, 1.8m tall)

Adisak has improved a lot with his shooting. He scored five times at the Asian Games and, at senior level, he has scored in every match he played, against China, Lebanon and New Zealand.

He has very good movement in terms of running behind defenders, and his technique is so much better than before that now he reminds me of Kiatisuk.

* Therdsak Chaiman, 41, is currently player-coach with Thai club Chonburi. He has 75 caps, 22 goals, two Suzuki Cup titles (2000, 2002) and was the 2002 MVP. He has also won three SEA Games golds (1995, 1997, 1999).

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