'It doesn't mean I support Japan'

'It doesn't mean I support Japan'
Singapore football fans mostly all decked in red, showing their support for the Lions during the Singapore-Japan Group E World Cup qualifier held on 12 November 2015.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

A day after the Singapore national team lost 0-3 to Japan in a World Cup qualifier, local footballer Poh Yi Feng has come under criticism after a picture of him donning the visitors' jersey was circulated among the Lions' fans.

Poh, 28, uploaded on Facebook a selfie of himself at the National Stadium with the home fans on Thursday night. But it attracted flak from a section of the Singapore fans.

The Balestier Khalsa player shrugged off the brickbats, telling The Straits Times: "I don't think it's a problem. It doesn't mean I support them (Japan) just because I wore the jersey."

The midfielder added that it was his son who picked the Samurai Blue jersey for him to wear at the match, later posting a comment on Facebook saying: "I rather please him than people I don't know. If I wear Japan jersey and sit at the Singapore section, what does it mean?" However, Lions fan Tan Hwee Heng was less than impressed.

"As a Singaporean footballer who plays in Singapore, I think it is in very bad taste for him to go to the stadium to support Japan," said Tan, who travelled to Saitama back in June to support the Lions in the 0-0 away draw.

The 40-year-old operations manager also lamented that many of the local fans wore the red jerseys of English Premier League clubs Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United instead of the Singapore national team's jersey.

"It is not enough to wear foreign club jerseys. Even wearing an SG50 T-shirt is better than wearing the Manchester United jersey," Tan insisted.

Paul Chew, 23, was also similarly disappointed with the Balestier player.

"He (Poh) said back then his dream is to represent Singapore, but what he did seemed like a U-turn to me," said Chew, who has watched local football matches regularly since 2010.

In a 2012 interview, Poh mentioned that he aspired to score for the national team, having just been called up for friendlies against Hong Kong and Malaysia by former national coach Raddy Avramovic. However, he did not feature in those matches.

Mohd Salihin, who has been watching Lions matches since the 1993 SEA Games, believes that fans who were at Kallang on Thursday decked in the kits of other teams instead of Singapore's do not like to "associate themselves with failure".

The 29-year-old added: "He (Poh) is someone who is recognisable to local football fans. So he should have known what to do when attending football matches."

However, Jonathan Neo, 23, believes that Poh did nothing wrong.

He said: "We have our freedom of speech after all.

"Who are we to decide who we should support?"

This article was first published on November 14, 2015.
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