Football fever, Singamania style
Singapore fan group vows to be red, loud and proud
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.
"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
Causeway Derby set to be a hit
It is a delicious rivalry that has been spiced up through the years by some fierce and memorable contests.
On the final day of Group B competition in the AFF Suzuki Cup tomorrow, the Causeway Derby finally rolls into town when arch-rivals Singapore and Malaysia go toe to toe at the National Stadium.
Already, Singapore fans are salivating at the prospect of a first clash against the Tigers at their new 55,000-capacity football arena.
Joshua Tan, a 34-year-old banker who will be at the game, said yesterday: " It's going to be amazing. I am looking forward to the atmosphere on Saturday.
"Causeway derbies always throw up a special kind of passion among fans, and I can't wait to see the new stadium properly christened with a special match like this."
In a testament to the unique nature of games featuring the two nations, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said that 65 per cent of tickets have been sold as of yesterday.
That figure already beats the 32,148 who attended Singapore's opener against Thailand, which the Lions lost 2-1.
Just 24,000 turned up for Singapore's 4-2 victory over Myanmar on Wednesday.
Yesterday alone, 4,000 tickets were snapped up by fans and according to the FAS, that number is 3.5 times more than what they usually sell on an average day.
Defending champions Singapore are favourites to join Thailand in the semi-finals as they almost certainly only need a draw tomorrow to book their spot in the last four.
Myanmar need to beat Thailand by four goals and hope the other game is a draw, to advance.
Fans whom The New Paper spoke to were unequivocal in their support for the Lions.
"The result against Myanmar has no bearing on my decision to attend the Malaysia game at all," said 26-year-old Syed Faris, of Singapore fan group SingaMania.
"I don't support a team only when it's winning.
"A real fan will support their team under any circumstances. Look at those lower-division English clubs like Millwall and Derby County. They have great support.
"We are talking about Singapore here. It's about national pride."
Ali Aqbar, 20, feels the same way.
He also wants Singapore fans to be loud and proud on matchday.
He said: "Against Myanmar, the small pocket of away fans were even louder than us, and I hope that will change against Malaysia.
"I hope all of us fans will dance and sing together, and give the Lions the resounding support they need."