The moment they stepped onto Anfield's pristine pitch yesterday, they were marked men.
Singapore's Dorset Boys, who finished as runners-up at last year's Standard Chartered Trophy Final, were unable to make it past the group phase this year after failing to register a win in the fourth edition of the five-a-side futsal tournament.
Said Nagarajan K Suppiah, who was part of last year's team: "The standard is definitely higher this year as the quality of the teams has improved. Last year, we were finalists, so the other teams were wary of us.
"Last year's winners from Vietnam also didn't make it past the group stage.
"I think maybe the pressure got to us. Last year, there were no expectations on us but, this time round, it was different."
The Singaporean side drew 1-1 with Malaysia and lost 3-1 to Hong Kong yesterday, after losing 2-1 to the UK and 2-0 to the eventual winners from South Korea on Thursday.
Team captain Rooban Kanth admitted that his team should have done better but took solace in the fact that his team avoided defeat by Causeway rivals Malaysia.
He said: "I think our morale dropped when we didn't beat the UK team in our first game, because we felt they were the easiest team in our group.
"Ours was definitely the harder of the two groups - three of the top four teams (South Korea, Malaysia and Hong Kong) were from there. Only (losing finalists) Kenya were from the other group."
Despite the failure to replicate last year's surprise showing, the boys - most of whom grew up near Dorset Road in Farrer Park - felt their trip to Liverpool was an invaluable experience.
They got to meet Liverpool legends John Barnes, Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish as well as Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and striker Fabio Borini.
For Justin Luke Nirmalan, his most treasured memory was being trained by one of the best defenders in Liverpool's history.
This article was first published on May 9, 2015.
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