Masters football game a treat for the fans

Masters football game a treat for the fans
Castlewood Group Liverpool Masters press conference with Liverpool legends, Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman, Emile Hesky and Singapore heroes Aleksandar Duric and Aide Iskandar.

In one corner, some of the great attackers who have starred for five-time European Cup champions Liverpool FC and, in the other, a trio of forwards who are among the best in the history of the Singapore national team.

With star names likes Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Ian Rush in the Liverpool Masters side who will take on the Singapore Masters outfit featuring Fandi Ahmad, V Sundramoorthy and Aleksandar Duric up front, it is hardly surprising the glamour clash here on Saturday is set to be a big hit.

The Castlewood Group Liverpool Masters, organised by Masters Football Asia, will be held at the 8,000-capacity Jalan Besar Stadium.

Speaking at a press conference at The Westin yesterday, Steve Black, chief executive officer of Masters Football Asia, said: "Almost all the tickets are sold out, and only a few hundred are left.

"We encourage all the fans out there to get their tickets as soon as possible."

SELL-OUT

The match featuring veteran star names will almost certainly be a sell-out.

One fan who will be enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime experience will be Milan Duric, brother of recently-retired Singapore star striker Aleksandar.

The younger Duric fled war-torn Serbia to pursue a career in football and the pair were separated from 1990 to 2000.

A couple of meetings followed and the brothers last saw each other in 2005.

Milan has never seen him play but, with the match set to be Aleksandar's testimonial, it will be a poignant moment for the brothers.

"It's never been easy for him to come over because of work back in Serbia, and also the expensive flight tickets," said Aleksandar, 44.

"But he's here now and I'm happy. He's going to watch me play for the first and last time. It'll be an emotional moment, but I'm looking forward to showing my brother my skills."

Marshalling the Singapore Masters' defence will be former international Aide Iskandar, who is relishing the prospect of squaring up against the Liverpool legends.

"As a defender, I'm always looking forward to playing against quality opponents. None of them might be in their prime now, but they're still great players," said the former national skipper.

"It will be interesting for me and my teammates to face these players and, hopefully, it will be an exciting match for fans."

Duric agreed, saying: "I'm looking forward to scoring one or two goals. It will be a special game and I've never played with Fandi or Sundram, so I'm looking forward to sharing the pitch with them."

PUMPED UP

McManaman was equally excited, with the Englishman recalling his past visits to Singapore.

Said McManaman: "I've been here a few times and, in 2012, I played in the Singapore Masters Cup, a six-a-side competition at the Indoor Stadium, so I'm excited to play again."

With both sides in such a good mood, Duric expressed confidence that the fans would not be disappointed.

"If one of them scores, we'll score back," he said.

"It's an exhibition game, but it's a game nonetheless. And we want to win."

It could be an all-red clash in 2015

From the 8,000-capacity Jalan Besar Stadium to the magnificent 55,000-capacity National Stadium - that's the aim of Masters Football Asia chief executive officer Steve Black for next year.

To further whet the appetite of Singapore's football fans, the organisers of Saturday's Castlewood Group Liverpool Masters match are looking to secure an even bigger serving here in 2015.

Speaking on the sidelines of a press conference yesterday at The Westin, Black said: "We're at a very advanced stage with our sponsor, the Castlewood Group, to bring the Liverpool legends back next year, perhaps to play against a Manchester United team of former players.

"Our main aim is to feed the demand of the local community and the icing on the cake would be to hold such a match at the new National Stadium for 55,000 fans."

With the Singapore population dominated by Man United and Liverpool fans, the first 11-a-side game between the two biggest rivals in English football will surely attract huge interest.

The Singapore Masters' clash with the Liverpool Masters on Saturday will be played at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

SingTel will broadcast it "live" here, while Sky Sports - they have had an exclusive deal for all Masters' matches since 2000 - will do the same in the United Kingdom.

"The last two occasions when we organised Masters Football Legends tournaments in Singapore in 2012 and 2013, they were both six-a-side affairs, played in the Indoor Stadium," said Black.

"But we realise there's a huge demand from the public to see these players in a proper football match. So we approached the former Liverpool players, and we've had a fantastic response.

"Not just from the public, but also the players themselves who, like Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman, were excited about it.

"Actually, our biggest problem was deciding on who not to pick."


This article was first published on Nov 13, 2014.
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