BOTN feature report
By Paul Green (Corinthian)

    Singapore Cup 2010 - Match 16 - 2nd leg of Semifinal
    7:30pm, Friday 8 October, 2010
    at Jalan Besar Stadium

    Bangkok Glass FC 3
    (Chatree Chimtale 27', 42', Gbenga Ajayi 85
    drew with
    South Melbourne FC 3
    (Giovanni De Nittis 31', Fernando De Moraes 37' pen, Giovanni De Nittis 74')

    (Bangkok Glass won 6-4 on aggregate)

    (Photo as marked, by permission)

    Thrills and spills. And some monumental blunders.

    That’s what fans who turned up at Singapore’s Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday night were treated to as South Melbourne attempted to overcome a two-goal first- leg deficit against Bangkok Glass in their Singapore Cup Quarter Final showdown.

    In the end the task proved too much for the Australian visitors; but in being part of a 3-3 crowd-pleaser South Melbourne made a lasting impression on the Singapore public with a fighting performance and they produced some quality football.

    They had a mountain to climb and when the Blues fell a further goal behind early on many at the modern stadium with the artificial pitch might have expected that a rout was imminent.

    But the Australian visitors – the nominal away team in the second leg – knuckled down and scored two goals to shoot to a 2-1 lead before half time.

    And while Bangkok drew level again in the 42nd minute, South Melbourne were not finished even then and surged to an exciting 3-2 lead before a lapse of concentration allowed the Thais to equalise and make the tie safe right near the end.

    The televised match “‘showcased’ what Australian football could bring to Singapore”, according to Eddie Krncevic, the latest South Melbourne coach, when speaking to the media post-match.

    “We did much better tonight than we did in the first leg,” he said.

    “We recovered well with ice baths and we acclimatised enough to put on a decent show.

    “It would be interesting to see how we performed if we were full-time professionals like Bangkok Glass who are a quality side.

    The opening goal arrived in the 27th minute after some good, early pressure from South Melbourne had seen the Australians looking good enough to pull a goal back quickly and then go on to at least square the tie.

    Instead, a swift counter-attack by the Thais punished the Blues as 21 year old goalkeeper Stefan Sardelic and defender Rhodri Payne went for the same ball at the far post after Japanese midfielder, Kunihiko Takizawa, had made a lightning run down the left and crossed the ball deep to the far post.

    It should have been a regulation catch, but the two South Melbourne men tangled and got in one another’s way which gave Sarun Promkeaw the chance to square the ball to the onrushing Chatree Chimtale who blasted into an open net.

    A goal down, South Melbourne could have caved in, but with the momentum from their good early start behind them they fought back magnificently and within ten minutes were in front.

    Daniel Vasilevski got to the left by-line after some good build-up play and crossed for Giovanni De Nittis to nod home easily at the far post.

    Bangkok’s Brazilian coach, Carlos Roberto, said he had warned his men about allowing too many crosses to be made and they failed to prevent that happening and paid the price.

    When De Nittis raced into the box on the right in the 37th he was clattered to the ground by Panuwat Failai and referee P Pandian awarded the penalty.

    Fernando De Moraes converted confidently, sending the keeper the wrong way, and it was game on.

    There was another set-back, however, for the Blues in the 42nd.

    Clearly due to a concentration lapse, a corner from the left by Supachai Komslip was allowed to reach the middle of the goalmouth without anyone picking up Chimtale again and the Thai League’s top scorer headed powerfully into the roof of the net for a stunning finish.

    Two-all at half time, and still with two goals to make up to even draw level on aggregate, the odds were certainly stacked against the Australians, but they never gave up.

    Another cross by Vasilevski in the 75th saw a looping header into the top right corner of the net by De Nittis, making it 3-2 to the Blues and it meant there was now an outside chance of grabbing two more to advance to the semi-finals, perhaps after extra time.

    But it was not to be, as Bangkok Glass exploited yet another lapse of concentration as tired minds as well as tired legs began to take their toll on South Melbourne.

    Nigerian striker, Gbenga ‘Samuel’ Ajayi, worked his way through before slipping the ball to the right.

    From the return pass he was able to rifle a shot past Sardelic for the third and final goal and maintain his record of scoring in each of his side’s Singapore Cup matches.

    The Thais almost scored the winner in the 90th minute, but substitute and Singapore crowd favourite, Sutee Suksomkit, who turned out for Melbourne Victory last season, went narrowly wide with a low shot from a tight angle.

    Their first venture into Asia proved instructive for the South Melbourne club.

    They had to face the issue of beginning their Cup campaign towards the end of their domestic season and if they wanted to advance beyond the Quarter Finals, which are staged a few weeks after the Victorian Premier League season has wound down, then they’d need to consider other issues like funding (with no gate receipts) the part-time players’ work and personal commitments and travelling costs.

    And if the team had played in the Finals series (they finished joint fifth and lost a play-off) they would have probably retained some of their in-season fitness.

    As it was they were found a little wanting in that department, quite burly in some cases, certainly not match fit, which definitely let them down badly, especially in the first leg in Singapore.

    On the bright side, though, South Melbourne have seen doors open for them.

    Their chairman, (name to be confirmed) said at the post-match discussion, that he was in talks to bring a Singaporean team (or maybe even a Thai team, who knows) to Melbourne in June as part of the club’s celebrations of having its new stadium in use for the first time.

    It would be mid-season for Singapore as well as for the Victorians and that could be favourable, while at the same time perhaps, costly, unless subsidies could be obtained.

    Even for the Quarter-Final South Melbourne had players missing, notably Joe Keenan, on loan to Adelaide United and keeper Peter Zois, who apparently defected to Oakleigh before hooking up with Melbourne Heart as understudy to Clint Bolton.

    Plus the scorer of the goal in the Preliminary Round, Joseph Youssef, had quit football and recent signing Steven Topalovic was also unable to make the trip.

    Even with those players absent the team looked competitive.

    “I thought we did well in the second leg,” said Krncevic.

    “We had an inexperienced keeper who has to be given his chance after being in the reserves. I won’t blame him for the mistakes at all, as he is still only young.

    “The opposition was good and we matched them, I feel.

    “We wanted to showcase Australian football for the fans here and I think we did that,” he went on.

    The chairman said later that it was the best football he had seen from a South Melbourne team since 1999, the last time the team won the championship.

    That club 40th anniversary-year NSL- winning team took the club into the FIFA World Club championship, with Michael Petkovic in goal and Vaughan Coveny the top goal-scorer with 14 goals that season.

    Coveny got the side into the Quarter Finals with South’s 2-1 win over Gombak before Krncevic took over, with mainly the 2011 season in mind.

    To beat Bangkok Glass, who looked strong and unlikely to surrender their two-goal lead easily, they would probably have needed longer lead-time and more incentives to players to make the trip with work commitments and other factors making such a choice difficult.

    Arriving two days before the first-leg and having one training session was clearly against the side that was facing a Thai Premier League team, in season and only a short flight away.

    The 16-hour budget flight to Singapore, via Malaysia, must also have taken its toll, though Krncevic said he did not want to use that as an excuse.

    All in all South Melbourne flew the Australian flag better than anyone could have wished for and if they are invited back next year they would surely have learned a lot and may well issue a stronger challenge the second time around.


    Crowd: 931

    Bangkok Glass FC :
    Player listing:
    1 Kittisak Rawangpa (gk), 6 Amnart Kaewkheaw (c), 17 Supachai Komsilp, 21 Panuwat Failaim, 35 Thanongsak Pajakkata, 11 Sarun Promkeaw, 22 Kunihiko Takizawa, 31 Wichaya Dechmitr , 9 Gbenga Ajayi, 14 Paul Bekombo, 29 Chatree Chimtale

    Substitutes: 18 Klisana Klunklin (rgk), 2 Wasan Homsaen, 26 Chuchai Mueanthip, 30 Praweenwat Boonyong, 10 Sutee Suksomkit MF, 15 Anawin Jujeen, 23 Peeraphong Pichitchotirat
    Changes: Anawin Jujeen for Paul Bekombo (80'), Sutee Suksomkit for Sarun Promkeaw (85'), Klisana Klunklin for Kittisak Rawangpa (93')

    Coach: Carlos Roberto De Carvalho

    Yellow Cards: Paul Bekombo 18', Kittisak Rawangpa 45'
    Red Cards: Nil

    South Melbourne FC :
    Player listing:
    1 Stefaan Sardelic (gk), 2 Lukmon Anifaloyin, 3 Rhodri Payne, 4 Steven O'Dor, 14 Ramazan Tavsancioglu (c), 5 Daniel Vasilevski, 8 Carlo Recchia, 15 Fernando De Moraes , 18 Marinos Gasparis , 9 Giovanni De Nittis, 10 Jesse Krncevic

    Substitutes: 21 George Malliaras (rgk), 12 Bradley Samuel Treloar, 22 James Stefanou, 16 Dimitri Vithoulkas, 25 Kyle Joryeff
    Changes made: Kyle Joryeff for Ramazan Tavsancioglu (89')

    Coach: Eddie Krncevic

    Yellow Cards: Giovanni De Nittis 29', Carlo Recchia 45', Ramazan Tavsancioglu 87', Jesse Krncevic 90'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: P Pandian 8/10
    Assistant Referees: AR1 Edwin Lee, AR2 Lim Kok Heng; Fourth Official Johan Jahari; Match Commissioner Franklin Miranda

    Pitch rating: 10/10 - synthetic

    Game rating: 8/10

    Players to note: Kunihiko Takizawa, Supachai Komslip, Sarun Promkeaw (BG); Giovanni De Nittis, Fernando De Moraes, Lukmon Anifaloyin (SM)

    Match Report from Paul Green (Corinthian) in Singapore

    (Photo as marked, by permission)

    (Photo as marked, by permission)

    (Photo as marked, by permission)

    (Photo as marked, by permission)

    Preview by Paul Green

    Friday night’s RHB Singapore Cup Quarter- Final second-leg match should provide some answers to the relative merits of Thai and part-time Australian football, if nothing else.

    Dismissing the first-leg loss to the Thais as understandable given the differences between the full-time professionalism of Bangkok Glass and the limitations imposed on a semi-professional South Melbourne was an easy analysis for the Australian club’s coach, Eddie Krncevic, to provide, post-match.

    Other factors, which he also alluded to, such as fatigue, lack of preparation time and unfamiliar conditions of both pitch and weather would have contributed greatly.

    The big question now is whether those other difficulties, encountered by Eddie and his men since their arrival on these shores, have been addressed.

    We do know, for instance, that Bangkok Glass, far from being complacent or resting on their 3-1 first-leg winning- margin laurels went through a friendly match the very next day at Bedok Stadium against Great Eastern-YEO‘S S.League side Geylang United.

    The Thai club brought over a lot of players, no doubt with the possibility of later matches in the semi-final and potentially the Final in mind and wanted to give every player a run. They beat the Eagles 1-0 and even some of the men who had helped the side beat South Melbourne turned out less than 24 hours after savouring that victory.

    Bangkok Glass, make no mistake, are formidable opponents.

    South Melbourne acknowledge that, having seen an early lead wiped out and a final 30 minutes of near mayhem on Tuesday evening.

    That the Australian side was still standing and only conceded three goals may in itself have been enough to bring a sense of relief to coach Eddie Krncevic’s mind, though he would have held hopes of restricting that deficit to no worse than 1-2.

    His mission now is to have an acclimatised bunch of 15 players (against the 26 that Bangkok Glass has with them) in better shape to take the tie to the conclusion that can bring South Melbourne a shock victory or at the very least, some semblance of satisfaction and respectability.

    Two more days in Singapore since that rude awakening and a second look at the artificial pitch at Jalan Besar, with more fitness work and perhaps some studying of the video of the first-leg, may be enough for ace-tactician Krncevic, a former NSL title-winning coach in Australia, to take his side to the brink of pulling off a second- leg, second-chance upset.

    The speed and the agility of the Thais has undone better sides than South Melbourne, though; but they do have weaknesses and if Krncevic can identify those and have his side primed properly they may even be able to turn things around, after all.

    The coach admitted it would not be easy but he was in no mood to throw in the towel after the first-leg match, waiting to see if he could get the players ready to put in a storming finish to the two-legged Quarter- Final on Friday night.

    It will be an uphill task even if South Melbourne acclimatise to the weather and the pitch and the novelty of playing a Thai team.

    That Thai team may not be the best in their country – yet - but it is one of the most exciting and ambitious ones and it is not only Thai player that are giving it that edge.

    In the Preliminary First Round, , against SAFFC, the ‘Glass Rabbits’ overcame a 1-3 deficit to inflict an embarrassing 3-5 defeat on the hitherto all-conquering Warriors.

    Against South Melbourne they came from a goal down to win 3-1, running away, at the finish.

    And the brilliance of substitute, Gbenga ‘Samuel’ Ajayi, was again seen to advantage.

    The Nigerian came off the bench against SAFFC to create havoc, without even scoring a goal, and this time he found the net for good measure.

    But his chief contribution was a dazzling display of footwork and imagination that completely bamboozled the Australians who became almost onlookers by the end of the match as ‘Samuel’ literally ran rings around them.

    Against the Warriors he came on in the 57th and the Bangkok side pulled back their first goal in the 59th. Coincidence? Surely not!

    This time he arrived in the 54th and, you guessed it, his side pulled back their first goal in the 60th to draw level.

    After that it was virtual one-way traffic with ‘Samuel’ leading the ‘convoy’

    His adroit touch and, importantly, fresh legs combined to mesmerise South Melbourne and begged the question why was he left languishing on the bench until so late.

    It was no tactical ruse, either, according to the Thais’ 62 year old Brazilian coach, Carlos Roberto.

    He explained that the Nigerian was not fully match-fit and would not have managed a full game while the team’s other star attacking asset, Sutee Suksomkit, remained in reserve until the last few minutes for similar reasons.

    It seems most likely that neither player will start in the second leg, either.

    South Melbourne, then, need to score as many goals as they can before those two stars arrive on the scene and hope to hold them out once they do deign to put in an appearance.

    That’s the simplistic way of looking at things, of course.

    In reality Bangkok Glass is a strong side, even without the inventive pair referred to here. They have won games in the Thai Premier League with Sutee injured and recovering from knee surgery and with Samuel sidelined as well.

    They have scored plenty of goals too.

    So South Melbourne face an uphill task to rescue the tie.

    Some tactical acumen is certainly called for here and it would be folly to dismiss Krncevic and his men’s chances of turning things around, given the former Socceroo and experienced European campaigner’s vast experience as both a player at the highest level and as a coach.

    Two of their substitutes may have scored for Bangkok in the first leg, but prior to that the likes of Cameroonian striker Paul Bekombo and Japanese midfield star, Kunihiko Takizawa, had kept the South Melbourne side at full stretch too.

    Bangkok Glass looked one of the best sides in the RHB Singapore Cup when they played against SAFFC and looked no slouches as in previous Cup campaigns here as well, with last season’s appearance in the Final certainly no fluke.

    Perhaps the greater preparation time, the familiarity with the prevailing weather conditions in Singapore and the sheer professionalism of the Thai league was enough to give Bangkok Glass the edge the first time.

    South Melbourne, according to their coach, had 19 training sessions over three and a half weeks leading into this Cup match and had not played a competition match for six or seven weeks.

    It’s going to take all of Eddie Krncevic’s skill as a coach to get his, frankly, unfit team ready for this one, but, being the accomplished striker he once was, you can be sure he’ll be giving it his best shot.

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