Four-goal Chananan signals Thailand's statement of intent

Striker stars as Thais look like the team to beat

GOALS GALORE: Thai fans share Chananan Pombubpha's (above left, No. 23) delight as he plunders four goals.
GOALS GALORE: Thai fans (above) share Chananan Pombubpha's delight as he plunders four goals.




(Narubadin Weerawatnodom 10, 
Chananan Pombubpha 20, 47, 62-pen, 74, Nurul Sriyankem 38)

Defending South-east Asia (SEA) Games football champions Thailand issued a strong statement of intent in their opening Group B match last night by thumping Laos for six at the Bishan Stadium.

And it simply read: "We are keeping the gold."

Striker Chananan Pombubpha, in particular, destroyed the Laos defence with his deadly finishing, as he grabbed four goals to be an early contender for the tournament's top scorer.

"We have many good players from the last SEA Games," said the 23-year-old.

"But now we are stronger. I'm confident that Thailand will be able to get yet another gold medal.

"We have six players from the national team, especially the defence, and that makes our team very strong.

"I'm confident of getting another goal and, most importantly, another three points in the next game against Timor Leste."

But it was not just a one-man show, as all his 10 outfield teammates also put on a stunning show of attacking prowess.

For much of the first half, they camped in the Laos half, and coped easily on the few occasions their opponents threatened to counter-attack.

Thailand got the breakthrough after just 10 minutes, when Narubadin Weerawatnodom headed in Peerapat Notechaiya's corner at the back post.

Chananan doubled the lead 10 minutes later when he provided the finishing touch to a fluid one-touch attacking move that involved Pinyo Inpinit and Chanathip Songkrasin.


It was again Chanathip, the diminutive playmaker dubbed "Messi Jay", who pulled the strings.

He played a lovely one-two with Peerapat before setting up Nurul Sriyankem for the third, seven minutes before the break.

There was to be no respite for Laos, however, as Chananan headed another pinpoint Peerapat corner just two minutes after the restart.

The Muangthong United forward completed his hat-trick with a 62nd-minute penalty, after Nurul's charge into the box was illegally stopped by Sengdao Inthilath.

But Chananan and Thailand were not done yet.

They hit the final nail in Laos' coffin with another gem of a team goal involving Chanathip, Thitipan Puangjan and substitute Tristan Do that left Chananan with a header into an open goal.

While they matched Vietnam's 6-0 win over Brunei in the earlier 
Group B match, Thailand coach Choketawee Promrut said his team will not be distracted by results elsewhere.

He said: "We did not think about Vietnam, we focused only on what we had to do.

"Our team know exactly what to do, and we carried out our plan well tonight.

"It is a good start for us. Chananan played very well to score four goals."

  • TNP MAN OF THE MATCH: Chananan Pombubpha
  • LAOS: Vathana Keodouangdeth, Thinnakone Vongsa, Khonesavanh Sihavong, Keoviengpheth Lithideth (Maitee 46), Souk Aphone Vongchiengkham (Sitthideth Khanthavong 79), Thenthong Phonsettha (Sinnalone Sihalath 87), Bounthavy Sipasong, Soukchinda Natphasouk, Phoutthasay Khochalern, Sengdao Inthilath, Tiny Bounmalay.
  • THAILAND: Chanin Sae-ear, Narubadin Weerawatnodom (Tristan Do 63), Adison Promrak, Artit Daosawang, Peerapat Notechaiya, Nurul Sriyankem (Pakorn Parmpak 63), Sarach Yooyen, Thitipan Puangjan, Chanathip Songkrasin, Pinyo 
Inpinit (Rungrat Phumichantuk 69), 
Chananan Pombubpha.

Vietnam rout Brunei 6-0 despite resting key players

Resting some stars, Vietnamese rout minnows with a late goal rush

SUPER SHOW: Vietnam fans are treated to a great performance by their team (above).
SUPER SHOW: Vietnam fans (above) are treated to a great performance by their team.
“Even when we were leading by three or four goals, they continued to push forward and that was why we finished with such a big victory.” - Vietnam coach Toshiya Miura (above), on his players




(Le Thanh Binh 25, Tran Phi Son 47, Mac Hong Quan 75, Pham Duc Huy 78, Nguyen Cong Phuong 82, Pham Manh Hung 89)

Toshiya Miura may have played down his side's chances of winning the gold medal at the 2015 South-east Asia (SEA) Games, but Vietnam's Under-23 men showed their intent yesterday at the Bishan Stadium, kicking off their Group B 
campaign with a 6-0 demolition of Brunei.

They did take a while to get going and led 1-0 at the break, courtesy of Le Thanh Binh's opener, but they found their rhythm in the second half and piled on five more goals to complete an emphatic triumph.

Japanese coach Miura opted not to field key players Que Ngoc Hai and Vo Huy Toan, while Mac Hong Quan came on only as a substitute, and he was pleased that some of his lesser lights repaid his faith.

"The first half was not as easy as people might have expected, but my players continued to work hard to make sure we got the result," he said.

"Even when we were leading by three or four goals, they continued to push forward and that was why we finished with such a big victory.

"A big positive for me was also the fact that I was able to give some of the senior players a rest.

"Many of the players who started are coming back from injury and haven't played 90 minutes for some time now, so it was good to see their condition getting better."

Although the Vietnamese dominated proceedings from the opening whistle, it initially looked as though it was going to be one of those days as they spurned a host of gilt-edged chances.


The breakthrough eventually arrived in the 25th minute, when Le found space inside the box and coolly finished past Ahsanuddin Hj Dani.

Two minutes after the break, Tran Phi Son doubled the lead when he headed home a Nguyen Cong Phuong free-kick.

A late Brunei meltdown - mainly fuelled by some poor goalkeeping by Ahsanuddin - saw Hong Quan, Pham Duc Huy, Cong Phuong and Pham Manh Hung net in the final 15 minutes to seal a resounding win for their team.

The disappointment on the face of Brunei coach Stephen Ng was clear for all to see at the final whistle, as he bemoaned his side's inability to maintain their performance levels.

"We competed well in the first half… Unfortunately, conceding early in the second half unsettled the team," the former Singapore goalkeeper said.

"Vietnam's experience really counted after that and our last 20 minutes were not good.

"They capitalised on our lapses and that's something we will have to improve on."

Ho Ngoc Thang (Vietnam)
  • BRUNEI: Ahsanuddin Hj Dani, Azri Zahari (Shafie Effendy 67), Khairil Shahme Suhaimi, Hanif Hamir, Suhaimi Anak Sulau, Nur Ikhmal Damit, Ak Yura Indera Putera, Saiful Ammar Hj Adis (Asnawi Syazni 88), Aminuddin Zakwan Tahir, Azwan Ali, Faiq Jefri Bolkiah (Nur Syazwan Halidi 73).
  • VIETNAM: Phi Minh Long, Huynh Tan Tai (Nguyen Thanh Hien 69), Vu Ngoc Thinh, Bui Tien Dung, Pham Manh Hung, Nguyen Huy Hung (Nguyen Cong Phuong 46), Do Duy Manh, Ho Ngoc Thang, Tran Phi Son, Pham Duc Huy, Le Thanh Binh (Mac Hong Quan 64)

McDonald's signs up as Official Partner

McDonald's Singapore yesterday announced its sponsorship of the SEA Games as an Official Partner, with the aim of raising public awareness and support for Team Singapore athletes.

The sponsorship is worth over $250,000.

The fast food chain aims to build affinity between Singaporeans and Team Singapore via a weekly four-part advertorial series from May 10 in The Straits Times featuring local athletes from four different generations.

McDonald's Surprise Alarm App users will receive an exciting variety of e-coupons, including redemptions for free McChicken burgers as well as Collect To Win vouchers which allow users to redeem an Extra Value Meal.

"We hope to enhance the SEA Games experience by raising awareness of Team Singapore and by recognising our athletes," said McDonald's Singapore managing director Robert Hunghanfoo. 


Match-fixing spectre as SEA Games football starts

Singaporean and others arrested, Timor Leste players helping CPIB probe into match-fixing

RELAXED: Several TImor Leste players were seen at the hotel.
I am the head coach of the team but I don’t really know what happened. - Timor Leste coach Fabio da Silva (above)

The ugly spectre of match-fixing in football has come to the fore once again here, as 11 nations come together for the biennial South-east Asia (SEA) Games, the biggest multi-sport event in the region. 

The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) revealed in a statement yesterday that a Singaporean alleged match-fixer has been arrested, along with several co-conspirators of different nationalities. 

"Acting swiftly on information received, CPIB mounted an operation that spanned from the late hours of the 28th to the early hours of the 29th of May," the statement continued. 

"Investigations are still ongoing against the arrested persons for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act." 

Members of the Timor Leste Under-23 side are assisting CPIB investigations while the team prepare to open their Games football campaign tonight against Malaysia at the Bishan Stadium. 

Despite the obvious hindrance to preparations, the show will go on. 

In a statement released yesterday, after a meeting with Timor Leste National Olympic Committee (NOC) officials, the South East Asian Games Federation (SEAGF) and the Singapore Southeast Asian Games Organising Committee (Singsoc) confirmed that the "SEA Games football matches will continue as planned and Timor Leste will play against Malaysia in their opening group match tomorrow".

The CPIB said that it has been "proactively monitoring football match-fixing activities in Singapore", especially with the SEA Games football tournament coming to Singapore shores.

It reiterated its stance that there will be zero tolerance towards corruption, and that it "will not hesitate to take action against any parties involved, if they have given, received, or offered bribes to fix a match".

The SEAGF and Singsoc reacted with similar gravity. 


"The SEAGF and Singsoc take a firm view on match-fixing and any actions by unscrupulous persons that bring the 28th SEA Games into disrepute. We will work closely with the Singapore authorities to uncover such intentions," it said in the statement.

Timor Leste coach Fabio da Silva woke up to a shock yesterday, when he found three of his players missing from a training session. 

"In the morning at training I had (three) fewer players, and when I asked why, they informed me but I don't really know what happened," he told reporters at the team hotel last night. 

"I am the head coach of the team but I don't really know what happened, my manager could maybe tell you more, but he's not here now.

"The other players also don't really know what happened," added the Brazilian, who admitted that the incident has affected the team. 

While Da Silva revealed that the trio are not key players, he called for his team to keep their mind on the game. 

"We had to train with fewer players, but we don't change our mentality. We will just have to forget this, and concentrate on what we have to do because tomorrow we have an important match against Malaysia," he said.

"And my team are ready to play."

Coaches of Brunei, Singaporean Stephen Ng, as well as Vietnam, Toshiya Miura of Japan, reacted with disappointment over the news, but declined to say more.   


"There has been so much hype and buzz over the football tournament because of the possibility of our boys winning a historic gold medal, so it's a downer to hear of something like this on the first day of the competition. But I have faith the authorities will take the proper action so that this does not tarnish the integrity of the football competition at the SEA Games."

- Football fan Bryan Ong, 28

"It is not nice to hear about this, especially now that the SEA Games have returned to Singapore after 22 long years and people might point to the links to the country and match-fixing over the last few years. This is a good chance to show that our authorities are on the ball and that match-fixing has no place in Singapore football."

- Football fan Jamaluddin Hasan, 47

I really hope these incidents don’t tarnish the tournament, and all teams adhere to the rules of fair play. Our boys attended a CPIB talk on this issue two months ago. And they are mature guys who know better than to get involved in such things.

- Singapore U-23 coach Aide Iskandar

Stay calm and focused, coach Ong tells Malaysian players

"We’re in a tough group, and things are likely to be between three teams, and a lot depends on how we keep our mind in the game." - Malaysia Under-23 football coach, Ong Kim Swee



Malaysia v Timor Leste

(Tonight, 8.30pm, Singtel TV Ch 134)

For a while yesterday, every single player in Ong Kim Swee's Malaysian Under-23 squad was lying flat on his back on the pitch at ITE College East, arms spread out, eyes closed. 

The Malaysian youngsters took very well to the relaxation exercise, none of them flinched even when a member of the coaching staff waved his hands mere inches from their faces. 

They will be looking for a similar cool approach tonight when they open their Group B South-east Asia (SEA) Games football campaign, against Timor Leste at the Bishan Stadium - even as the spectre of match-fixing looms over the fixture. 

Yesterday, three Timor Leste players were called up to assist the Corrupt Practices Investigations Bureau (CPIB), after an operation resulted in the arrest of one alleged match-fixer from Singapore and several co-conspirators of different nationalities. 

"This (match-fixing) thing has been going on for a long time, in every SEA Games, and every tournament in the region," said a livid Ong. 

"This is the first I'm hearing of this particular incident, but we keep talking about this for a long time and it keeps happening - it's terrible, it needs to stop.

"Right now the (Malaysian) players don't know. The players must keep their focus. We know what we have to do, and we'll leave the rest to the authorities - let's focus on the game," he said. 

Malaysia have to keep their head in the game, especially after both Thailand (against Laos) and Vietnam (against Brunei) registered 6-0 victories in the respective opening fixtures last night.  

Their target of a gold medal would require them to follow the group's other contenders, and fly off the starting blocks.

"The target is the same as it was in the past two editions of the SEA Games, expectations are always high, and the target is always gold," coach Ong told The New Paper.  

Malaysia won back to back SEA Games titles in 2009 and 2011, but finished fourth in the last edition in Myanmar, falling to Singapore in the bronze medal play-off. 


"At the last Games, we were the two-time defending champions, and there was more pressure. This time, we're more relaxed, simply because we're not favourites.

"And being relaxed is important. Look at Vietnam, they only managed one goal against Brunei in the first half, and got more goals once they got the momentum."

Ong picked out defending champions Thailand and Vietnam as the favourites.

"If they commit to wanting to be champions, it will be an easy task for Thailand. They are easily the best team in the region, at both the senior level and U-23," he said. 

Thailand won last year's AFF Suzuki Cup with a young squad helmed by Kiatisuk Senamuang, beating Malaysia in the final. 

"If we want to win the gold, sooner or later we will have to meet Thailand, and we will respect them as defending champions, but not too much," he said. 

Ong is first focused on surviving the group.

"If we don't get three points, we'll put ourselves in a very difficult situation and we cannot take things lightly," he said. 

"As long as the players don't panic, we'll be fine." 

School of frock

The Cannes Film Festival came to a close earlier this week and with that, we bid adieu to the best fashion of 2015 and reluctantly settle back into reality, says JEANMARIE TAN

Chanel Iman.
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Rohingya migrants seen begging for food, looking for jobs

CLEAN-UP: Policemen making their way through the abandoned human trafficking camp at Bukit Wang Burma in northern Malaysia.
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SIA's SG50 charity flight brings joy to 300 disadvantaged people

Singapore Airlines gives Community Chest beneficiaries the experience of flying

IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT: (Above, seated) Madam Esther Wee singing along on the flight.
IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT: Young passengers were also surprised with balloon sculptures.

In her 82 years, she has flown only once - with her husband more than a decade ago.

Madam Esther Wee, now a widow, was on a holiday with him in Thailand, but has lost all her photographs from the trip.

Yesterday, she got to relive her memories on board Singapore Airline's (SIA) first charity flight, part of SIA's SG50 celebrations.

The three-and-a-half hour flight to nowhere was organised for over 300 beneficiaries of Community Chest, such as children with special needs and disadvantaged elderly and families. Some beneficiaries had never flown before and many children squealed with excitement during take-off, as if they were on a roller-coaster ride.

Flight attendants surprised the children with balloon sculptures and the elderly with live performances, in addition to the usual in-flight entertainment and meal service.

They sang familiar tunes such as Di Tanjong Katong and Bruno Mars' Just The Way You Are.

Madam Wee was particularly taken by the live music, as she loves singing.

Throughout the flight, the Peranakan woman sang tunes from a song book that has accompanied her for 20 years and that has handwritten lyrics of her favourite songs.

The flight also reminded her of her last holiday with her husband.

"He was a very good man and he would always follow my wishes," said a tearful Madam Wee. "When he died, I cried day and night for months."

She lives alone in a rented two-room flat in Toa Payoh and is visited twice a week by Lions Befrienders.


Mr Ang Ghee Hwee, 51, and Madam Sri Kuwati, 38, were on the flight with their two children, aged two and one.

Mr Ang works 17 hours a day as a cleaner in a hawker centre to earn about $1,000 a month.

The family rents a two-room flat at Spooner Road and have taken only budget flights within Indonesia, Madam Kuwati's home country.

They have not been able to pay for a flight to Indonesia since Madam Kuwati returned to Singapore with their older son about two years ago.

Madam Kuwati was impressed with the Airbus A380 they were on, which is the world's largest aircraft.

"I have never been on such a big plane," she said.

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