Strangers who become friends at Jalan Besar

Strangers who become friends at Jalan Besar

The stands were decked in red and white.

The national anthem was sung with gusto.

Every tackle, foul and shot was met with a chorus of oohs and ahhs.

"It's completely different from watching it on TV," said Ong Ting Kai, one of the 6,500 fans who filled the Jalan Besar Stadium last night.

The 25-year-old civil servant was there to watch Singapore beat the Philippines 1-0 in their opening South-east Asia (SEA) Games Group A football match.

"I really enjoyed the match," he said. "Every time there was a bad decision, you can hear the people beside you react.

"It was like a bonding experience. You go in (to the match) as strangers but come out as friends."


While his team lost, Filipino Emelio Flores had as a good time as the Young Lions' supporters.

"I came out here to support my team," said the 48-year-old, who has lived here for 13 years.

"But, regardless who won in the end, I had a good time."

It was the first time in 22 years that the SEA Games team played before a home crowd and Shawn Lai, 39, felt the fans were a reason for Singapore's victory.

The shipping executive said: "It was a good game. We played well although our opponents worked hard and there was a lot of fan support for the team."

While many soaked in the electrifying atmosphere, Abdul Ahmad, 34, felt let down by the final score.

"I felt it was a poor performance, given the standard of our players," the civil servant said. "We should have won by two or three clear goals.

"It was a good crowd and I am sure the next match will sell out as well. But we need to do better against stronger teams like Malaysia and Thailand."

This article was first published on June 2, 2015.
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