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First Soccer Match

22 December 2008

Dear Jing Jing

Do you like soccer? It’s a ball game with 11 players on both opposing side running after it, to kick it into the goal post. You’ll be amazed how nations and millions of people are crazy about it and will lose sleep, money and even “pon-ten” their jobs over it.

Daddy was a patriot when it comes to soccer. Singapore played against Vietnam on home ground in the AFP Suzuki Cup semi-finals on Dec 21 and he insisted on bringing you to watch at the National Stadium – which is near our house. It was a packed night! There were 55,000 fans in the Stadium, a full-house not attained by Singapore soccer for a loooonnnng time. 5,000 of them were Vietnam fans and the rest Singaporeans – Chinese, Malays, and Indians all united in one wish – to cheer Singapore and see it win.

The nite started with the National Anthem and boy did everyone in the stadium sang their hearts out. I’ve not heard such passionate singing of the anthem for a long long time since primary school. Daddy was close to tears when it finished. He was very very moved by the showing of patriotism.

As the match progressed, the stadium cheered their hearts out. Singapore played hard and had about 10 chances to score the goal, but alas! Opportunity was not aided by Lady Luck. Our strikers were rebuffed again and again by the superb catch of the Vietnam goalkeeper. Then the impossible happened 15 min before the end of the 2nd half. Vietnam swept a goal into our goal post! How could we let this happened? Have we been underestimating our opponents?!! Everything went downhill after that. The Lions fought hard but their destiny has been sealed.

I post here an article from Reuters which described what happened that fateful night. Hope you have enjoyed your 1st encounter with fellow Singaporeans over a round ball 🙂

Sunday December 21, 10:12 PM

Soccer-Vietnam stun holders Singapore to reach final

SINGAPORE, Dec 21 (Reuters) – Vietnam pulled off a shock 1-0 win over holders Singapore on Sunday to reach the final of the Southeast Asian championships for the first time in a decade.

Second-half substitute Quang The Nguyen scored with 15 minutes remaining of the second leg to stun the pre-tournament favourites and set up a final with three-times champions Thailand.

Unbeaten in 20 matches, Singapore fought desperately for the win after their 0-0 first leg, with prolific striker Noh Alam Shah troubling the Vietnam defence throughout a tense encounter in the city-state.

Last year’s top goalscorer and player of the tournament twice came close in the first half and failed to connect on two dangerous crosses that flashed across the Vietnam goal.

The Lions paid for not capitalising on their pressure in the 75th minute when striker Le Cong Vinh rode two tackles before squaring the ball to Quang, who prodded home from five metres to trigger wild celebrations.

Vietnam will travel to Bangkok for the first leg of the final on Dec. 24, with the return match in Hanoi on Dec. 28. (Reporting by Martin Petty in Bangkok; Editing by Justin Palmer)

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