S League: Former Tampines chairman upset over 'unannounced' fixture change

S League: Former Tampines chairman upset over 'unannounced' fixture change
Tampines Rovers captain Mustafic Fahrudin lifting the S-League trophy as club chairman Teo Hock Seng (left) and teammates join in the celebration.
PHOTO: The New Paper

He pointed to age and low energy levels as the reasons he relinquished control of Tampines Rovers, even as the club chase an unlikely title- winning finish to the 2015 Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League season tomorrow.

Those planning to be in the stands will be expecting to see an emotional, perhaps even a teary-eyed Teo Hock Seng at the Jurong West Stadium, alongside new chairman, 44-year-old lawyer Murali Krishna Ramachandra, as the team Teo helped assemble take on Harimau Muda.

A two-goal win over the Malaysian side, coupled with a Brunei DPMM draw or loss to Balestier Khalsa in Bandar Seri Begawan, will see the Stags crowned S.League champions, a fitting farewell present for the 69-year-old godfather of the club.

But Teo will not be present, having agreed to attend a black-tie dinner before the S.League moved Tampines' fixture (originally scheduled for tonight) to tomorrow evening to ensure both matches kick off on the same day.

And he was not pleased over the way the changes were made.

"They changed the schedule for the game maybe in the last 10 days, but there was no public announcement of it, not even on the S.League website," Teo told The New Paper yesterday.

"It was only when I checked the fixture list that I found out," he added, revealing that he had called league organisers to voice his displeasure.

"To lose seven games (in the league this year) and still be second and in with a chance at winning it is an achievement... but now I can't be there to watch it.

RIDICULOUS

"This is ridiculous, and you can quote me on that."

There is clearly fire still in his belly.

Never one to back down from speaking his mind, Teo has been a fervent supporter of Singapore football, and is known to urge his players to answer the nation's call, sometimes even at the expense of his club.

And he bristled at suggestions made prior to Singapore's 2-1 loss to Syria on Tuesday that Tampines fullback Shaiful Esah was not used by national coach Bernd Stange because of the club's title aspirations.

"It's not fair to say that the player would rather play for Tampines than the national team. There are no bigger games than games for your country, and in any case, it has always been our club policy to support the national cause," said Teo.

"I've always been glad to see my players go into the national team, and I've even allowed my players to join the LionsXII, leaving gaps to be filled in my team."

The LionsXII ply their trade in the Malaysian Super League, with many in the S.League fraternity calling its existence detrimental to the domestic game.

"You can't just eradicate that connection with the club, especially after serving the club for so long," added Teo, who has helmed the Stags since 1999.

"My heart is always with the club, and that's the same for my wife. You don't have to be at the forefront to be doing things (for the club), and if I'm asked for advice, I will be there," he said.

Even though there will be a Teo-shaped hole in the stands at Jurong West tomorrow, he will be keeping a close eye on proceedings.

"I will be getting updates on the game, and I will rush down after the dinner, if I can," said Teo, who is confident his former charges can pull off their end of the equation and beat Harimau Muda by two goals.

"And if they allow me to go to the dressing room to pat the boys on the back, of course I will."


This article was first published on November 20, 2015.
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