Singapore Under-23 football coach Aide Iskandar has had to deal criticism even before his side began their SEA Games campaign.
But the reproval reached an ugly level last Thursday during the Young Lions' 2-1 defeat by Myanmar at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
On the bench, Aide had to endure a tirade of expletive-laden abuse from a group of fans.
His family, who were seated in the grandstand, weren't spared either.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Aide's wife, Ezreen Taib Zohri, 39, said a few fans recognised her and her children in the stands, and directed their abuse towards them.
"My kids and I were seated behind the bench. Some fans knew who we were, but they still kept hurling vulgarities at Aide and some of the players," she said.
"At one point, a man stood up and told my 11-year-old son (Adiel), 'Your father is a useless f*****'. I was so upset. After that, Adiel just looked at me and said, 'Mummy, mummy'."
Ezreen and her three children - Andre, 14, Adiel, and Estee, 8 - relocated to the VIP section.
"At the VIP section, a Myanmar official even asked me, 'Why Singapore boo Singapore?'," Ezreen added. "He said, 'Medal can buy, but spirit cannot'. I was so malu (ashamed, in Malay) to reply."
Aide, 40, knows fans can get frustrated and heated during a football match, especially when Singapore are not winning, but he is appealing to the fans to support the team tonight in their do-or-die Group A clash with Indonesia.
"I can take the abuse as a coach, but I can't allow kids in the stands to hear such cursing," the coach said.
"It's not the majority of fans who do it - just a small section, and I thank the genuine ones out there.
"Those fans who curse at the team, I know deep down inside, they want Singapore to win.
"But I hope they can show solidarity with the team. The moment they boo the players, some of them will be affected on the pitch."
Striker Sahil Suhaimi is one player who was bothered during Monday's 3-1 win over Cambodia.
Scoring the third goal in the 90th minute came as a huge relief for Sahil, who has been under fire for not scoring in the previous two games.
When he drilled home his effort, the 22-year-old put his finger on his lips during the celebration, as if to silence his critics.
Later, after the match, Sahil said: "There was one person seated at the King George's Stand. The whole game he kept cursing me.
"He had a sharp, loud voice; I couldn't not hear it. That's why when I scored, my first reaction was to tell him to 'shoosh'."
TNP has learnt that one fan, unhappy with Sahil's celebratory gesture, called the Football Association of Singapore on Tuesday, demanding that Sahil apologises to the fans. If he fails to do that, he will be jeered all night long tonight against Indonesia.
In response, Sahil said he has nothing to apologise for.
"I'm not against the fans. When they cheered after I scored, it was such a great feeling - and I went to high-five some of them," he said.
"Just that when you hear such personal abuse, it's hard not to be affected. (But) I tried to draw motivation from it.
"I'm not going to change my celebration. Maybe next time, I'll cover my ears when I score."
This article was first published on June 11, 2015.
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