Khairul Nizam apologises for outburst after loss to Malaysia
He was unstoppable as he eluded markers, before unleashing a ferocious kick to destroy the target.
Unfortunately, Singapore striker Khairul Nizam's antics occurred off the National Stadium pitch and came after the final whistle.
In a video uploaded on Facebook by Jeffry Catz that has now gone viral, attracting close to 200,000 views, Nizam flew into a rage moments after Singapore lost 1-3 to arch-rivals Malaysia in their final Suzuki Cup group match last Saturday, and were eliminated as a result.
Reserve goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud and physiotherapist Nurhafizah Abu Sujad tried to hold the 23-year-old back, but Nizam easily shook them off and aimed an angry right-footed kick at a styrofoam box that broke upon impact.
Fellow reserves Sahil Suhaimi and Al-Qaasimy Abdul Rahman could be seen helping Izwan and Nurhafizah try to restrain Nizam, as he continued to struggle to keep his emotions in check.
Sources told The New Paper that Nizam was upset with Oman referee Al Kaf Ahmed Abu Bakar Said, who awarded Malaysia a controversial 91st-minute penalty which Safiq Rahim converted to make it 2-1 to the Tigers and effectively seal the fate of the home side.
Team manager Visakan Subramanian, midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin and Sahil then seemed to urge photographers to stop taking shots of the irate Nizam, while a few water bottles and cups were thrown from the terraces aimed at the match officials.
In a statement released by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) yesterday, Nizam apologised for his actions.
Said FAS spokesman Gerard Wong: "The player in the video had become emotional in the heat of the moment after Singapore's 1-3 loss to Malaysia in their final AFF Suzuki Cup Group B match.
"His teammates and FAS backroom staff reacted quickly and did their best to calm him down. We thank them for their decisive actions, and for helping their teammate in distress.
"We have since counselled the player and he has apologised for his actions.
"The FAS also wants to apologise to all fans who may have been offended by the video. We seek their understanding, and we thank them for their passionate support last Saturday night."
This is not the first time the talented but injury-plagued striker has lost his cool.
Nizam was also involved in the infamous 2010 S.League footbrawl contest between the Young Lions and Beijing Guoan, and was banned for eight months and fined $2,000.
While this matter has been put to bed by the FAS, it is understood that the national sports association will face sanctions for the mayhem during and after the dramatic match.
After Safiq put away his spot-kick and ran towards the Malaysian supporters to celebrate, some of them climbed over the railings to mob him.
Water bottles were also thrown by fans from the stands after the final whistle, preventing the match referee and his two assistants from returning to the dressing room, leaving them stranded on the pitch for around 10 minutes.
An Asean Football Federation spokesman told The New Paper that the Asian Football Confederation will decide on any course of action after studying the referee and match commissioner's report.
Based on precedents, TNP understands that the FAS could be fined anywhere between US$30,000 ($40,000) and US$70,000 for the crowd trouble and breach of safety incidents.
And the culprits are unlikely to escape.
With the Panomera Multifocal Sensor System installed in the National Stadium, the Sports Hub and the police should be able to use the state-of-the-art surveillance system to identify the culprits, who could face a stadium ban or police action.
Said Wong: "After Safiq Rahim scored Malaysia's second goal from the penalty spot, a few Malaysia fans at the front row climbed over to celebrate with the player who was standing less than five metres away from the stands. They did not enter the pitch, nor were they trying to do so.
"While FAS does not condone such actions by fans, the goal came at such a pivotal moment of the game with passions running high, the excitement shown by the Malaysian fans, who were eventually shepherded quickly back to the stands by Sports Hub's security staff, was understandable.
"FAS has given its feedback to the Sports Hub on this incident, as well as on the issue of water bottles thrown from the stands onto the pitch areas. We understand that a review is underway."
Responding to queries, SportsHub Pte Ltd CEO Philippe Collin-Delavaud said: "We are still investigating the issue together with the Singapore Police Force and will share more information when ready."
The FAS wants to apologise to all fans who may have been offended by the video. We seek their understanding, and we thank them for their passionate support last Saturday night.
- FAS spokesman Gerard Wong