Old rivalries will be renewed and new faces await their chance to take maiden bows in the preliminary round of the RHB Singapore Cup 2012 competition, after the draw was completed at Bugis Junction on a hot and bright Sunday afternoon.
A grand total of 16 sides will feature in this year’s tournament, including three foreign invitee outfits making their first appearances.
The inclusion of Loyola Meralco Sparks means that there will be a Filipino presence in Singapore’s premier football knockout cup tournament for the very first time, while Yotha FC become the first Laotian side to play in the tournament as well.
Also making their debut are Myanmar National League title contenders Kanbawza FC, following the lead of Okkthar United in last year’s competition.
Cambodian side Phnom Penh Crown continue their lengthy association with the competition as well, while Malaysia’s Harimau Muda will be represented by the junior side playing in their country’s Premier League, as their senior counterparts prepare for the AFC Under-22 Asian Cup qualifiers in June.
But the game of the first round will feature another foreign team already playing in the S.League – current leaders DPMM FC of Brunei, who have been drawn against defending champions Home United.
The draw was based on how twelve players, representing eleven S.League clubs and the Harimau Muda junior side, fared at a juggling competition held amid cheers from teammates, supporters and other members of the public spending their afternoon at Bugis.
The competition sorted the twelve teams based on how long their representative players managed to keep the ball off the ground, with Albirex Niigata (Singapore)’s Yutaka Nishi finishing top by lasting the full regulation period of five minutes.
Finishing second was SAFFC’s Erwan Gunawan, while Home fullback Jeremy Chiang had the misfortune of recording the shortest time, placing the Protectors at twelfth seed.
With the juggling competition split into three separate pools, spectators had little idea of the twelve teams’ exact placings, apart from knowing that Albirex were in top spot.
It was only when all the players had finished that the draw tree was unveiled, with each team’s name filled into the appropriate slots as ESPNStar host Colette Wong announced the results of the juggling competition.
Home coach Lee Lim Saeng was positive about the outcome of the draw, as he braced himself for a tough start against the Bruneians.
“I am looking forward to it,” he declared.
“It doesn’t matter whether we had drawn a local team or a foreign one. Of course our draw against the Brunei team is a tough one, but we are out to win the Singapore Cup, and if we overcome the strong teams first, it is an advantage in the later stages.
“I have no knowledge of the four foreign teams, but I hope they are good, strong teams. This will be good for the S.League.”
Albirex, who were losing finalists last year, have been drawn against top-tier side Yotha, who feature numerous Laos internationals, including former Thai Premier League striker Lamnao Singto.
White Swans vice-chairman Koh Mui Tee was happy to face the newcomers, whom he felt will pose a refreshing challenge.
“They are the Lao League champions, and they comprise a few national team players,” he said of Yotha.
“I understand they are one of the best teams in the country. But we will be out to go one better than how we did last year, and we will not take our opponents lightly, whoever they may be.”
Also facing foreign opponents in the opening round are Geylang United, who won the RHB Singapore Cup as recently as 2009.
They meet Loyola, who play in the semi-professional United Football League in the Philippines and boast among their stars two pairs of brothers, the Chelsea-trained Younghusbands and the Portsmouth-trained Hartmanns.
While reigning S.League champions Tampines Rovers and Woodlands Wellington also feature in the same half of the draw as Geylang and Albirex, Kanan Vedhamuthu felt his Eagles were fortunate not to be pooled into the all-S.League half of the draw tree.
“For Geylang, it seems an easier draw than the next group,” commented the 47-year-old.
“The stronger teams from our group look to be Albirex and Tampines, although I am not too certain how strong the four invited teams are. That said, we are not doing so well in the league, so the Cup has become a priority.
“We will respect the team we are drawn against in the first match, and we look to progress from there.
“I have only just come to know they have some key players of calibre and quality, so we will need to be prepared against this Philippine team. We should take nothing for granted.”
Should Geylang beat the Sparks, their quarterfinals opponents will be either Woodlands or Kanbawza, while Tampines have to overcome Phnom Penh Crown if they are to book a slot in the last eight.
The winners of the Home-DPMM clash will face either SAFFC or Balestier Khalsa, while Tanjong Pagar United face Hougang United and Gombak United are paired with the Harimau Muda Under-19s coached by Ismail Ibrahim.
With the first of the preliminary matches scheduled to take place on 14 May, the adrenaline rush of the region’s premier knockout tourney is set to be upon us in another two weeks.
The RHB Singapore Cup 2012 draw was held at Bugis Junction on 29 April from 3pm onwards.
As with past editions, there will be a total of 16 sides featuring in the competition this year.
Eleven out of thirteen teams participating in the Great Eastern-YEO’S S.League have been entered into the RHB Singapore Cup access list. These are, in alphabetical order: Albirex Niigata (Singapore) Balestier Khalsa DPMM FC Geylang United Gombak United Home United Hougang United Singapore Armed Forces FC Tampines Rovers Tanjong Pagar United Woodlands Wellington
The Courts Young Lions and Malaysia’s Harimau Muda, both of whom are Great Eastern-YEO’S S.League participant teams, have requested and received permission to sit out of the RHB Singapore Cup, due to their respective preparations for the AFC Under-22 Asian Cup qualifiers in June.
Taking the Harimau Muda’s place in the draw are their juniors from the Malaysia Premier League. For the purposes of the competition, they will be regarded as a non-invitee side.
Rounding off the list of 16 are four invited clubs from outside Singapore. They are, in alphabetical order: Kanbawza FC (Myanmar) Loyola Meralco Sparks (Philippines) Phnom Penh Crown (Cambodia) Yotha FC (Laos)
The draw will place all 16 teams into a tree divided into two halves. In order to ensure the presence of at least one Great Eastern-YEO’S S.League participant team in the Grand Final in November, all four invited foreign clubs will be placed in the same half of the draw tree.
Representatives from the eleven Great Eastern-YEO’S S.League sides and the Harimau Muda junior side are seeded based on their performance at a ball-juggling competition. This competition has been completed, with Albirex finishing in top spot.
The four invitee sides are randomly drawn into their respective positions separately.
The results of the draw, based on the above procedures, are as follows: DPMM FC vs Home United Singapore Armed Forces FC vs Balestier Khalsa Gombak United vs Harimau Muda Tanjong Pagar United vs Hougang United Yotha FC vs Albirex Niigata (Singapore) Phnom Penh Crown vs Tampines Rovers Loyola Meralco Sparks vs Geylang United Kanbawza FC vs Woodlands Wellington
South-East Asia nations to organise Asean Club Championship
The eagerness of the South-East Asian football community, especially Indonesia, to have a competition which involves all clubs from the region is likely to be fulfilled in the near future.
Bob Hippy, a member of the executive committee of Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) explained that this agenda is a follow-up from a meeting between sports ministers of Asean, which was held in Yogyakarta last year.
We are discussing and finalising the format of this competition," Hippy told reporters.
Hippy added, the main purpose of this competition is to improve the quality of South-East Asian football, and he also revealed the details of the tournament format and how it will be run.
"In this competition, each country is only represented by one club. The format will use a system of home and away."
However, no final decision about the competition format has been made yet because there is a discourse to invite clubs from Japan and Australia.
Previously, similar tournaments have been held in 2003 and 2005 but failed to continue due to a fixture clash with the AFC calendar and lack of sponsors.
VIENTIANE (24 March 2012) – Football in Laos is set to improve further with the announcement that the Oudomxay Provincial Stadium will be ready in 2013. The stadium is being constructed for the 10thLao National Games in 2014 but which will see completion at the end of next year.
The new stadium will have a seating capacity of 10,000 and will be used for opening and closing ceremony of the national games.
Bounkone Viengvisay, Deputy Chairman of the Ely Survey, Design, Consultancy and Construction Company said that the construction of the stadium has been completed by 70%, that of indoor stadiums has been completed by 55%, the swimming pool by 60%, and the construction of facilities surrounding the main stadium has been achieved by 70%.
Oudomxay province is located in the nothern part of Laos.
LAO LEAGUE 2012 1 LEG
1. POLICE FC 21 PTS
2. VIENTIANE FC 21 PTS
3. ARMY FC 20 PTS
4. YOTHA FC 18 PTS
5. LAC FC 15 PTS
6. EZRA FC 14 PTS
7. LAO AIRLINE FC 11 PTS
8. FRIENDS D. 6 PTS
9. LAO LANEXANG 4 PTS
10.EASTERN STAR 0 PTS