Football: These players dream big

SINGAPORE - They went up against physically bigger opponents, but that didn't stop the boys in the 2013 H-TWO-O Ultimate Dream Team from giving as good as they got.

In their final game together at ITE College Central on Monday night, the Singapore outfit took on a side made up mostly of Spanish expatriates who live in Singapore representing the Real Madrid Foundation Technical Academy.

After 90 minutes, the score was 0-0 and in the ensuing roulette of penalties, the "Dream Team" (below) prevailed 10-9 in dramatic fashion.

The team, made up of students from ITE, may go their separate ways, but the passion for the game among the players still lives on, with most of them wanting to play professionally.

Two have already been scouted by S-League clubs.

Zuhairi Ramadan and Akbar Shah Zainudeen, both 17, will be playing for the Under-18 teams for Home United and Balestier Khalsa, respectively.

Speaking to The New Paper after the match, Zuhairi said: "I'm very happy for this chance because my dream is to play professional football and, one day, play for the national team."

This is the third batch of players from the H-TWO-O initiative.

Three players from the inaugural batch in 2011, namely Samuel Benjamin, Ignatius Ang and Abdul Kadir, are now in Fandi Ahmad's LionsXII team.

It is a path 16-year-old Sankara Narayanan would like to take.

He was voted the Most Valuable Player for the 2013 programme by the coaches and will be going to Spain to watch Spanish giants Real Madrid train, courtesy of H-TWO-O.

Minutes after the award was announced, a clearly stunned Sankara said: "I feel shiok. I really didn't expect to win this, but I feel very happy to be going to Spain to watch Real Madrid play.

"I have no plans right now but, hopefully, I'll be scouted by a team because I want to play football professionally."

While the Singapore side were the favourites going into last night's match, they failed to find a breakthrough against their Spanish opponents.

Coach Sudiat Dali, a former Singapore international, felt nerves got the better of his players.


Sudiat, 53, said: "You could see they were very nervous because their finishing wasn't good. I wanted them to show what they learnt, but I could tell they were just too nervous."

However, he was proud of what his boys had gone through.

"They're a good bunch. They never gave up," he said.

"They're very committed to this team and to the game, so I hope to see some of them turn pro one day."

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