SINGAPORE - What happened to the original Kallang Roar?
Even with 51,557 fans packing the National Stadium for last night's glamour international friendly between Japan and Brazil, the atmosphere was surprisingly muted. Maybe everyone was too spellbound by Samba superstar Neymar's performance, as he bagged all four goals in a 4-0 win for the five-time world champions.
But it must be noted that, despite having close to a full house for the first time since the 55,000-capacity stadium opened in June, we saw only a fraction of what it used to be. Even Singapore's favourite football son Fandi Ahmad, sat in the stands with his eight-year-old son Iryan, thought so.
Wincing, he said: "It's not like before. We still need to work on it. "The atmosphere is better than during the Juventus game (against a Singapore Selection side on Aug 16), maybe it's because there were more people here today. "But still, the electric feeling is not there. You can't feel it yet. "Maybe it's because it's not our national team playing in an international game."
The spectators cannot be faulted for lack of trying, though. For example, in the 26th minute, a section of the North Stand (the modern-day Gallery, for those who only remember the old National Stadium) attempted to rally the masses with the trusty, old "Mexican Wave".
It lumbered and rumbled along, picking up in speed as it moved in a counter-clockwise direction. By the time it reached the South Stand (the old Grandstand), some started to stamp their feet in anticipation, like how fans did in the old days.
SIGNS OF LIFE
It wasn't a bad effort at all, but the whole thing lacked the spine-tingling aura of old. Thrice in the second half, the Kallang Roar showed signs of life. But, each time, it died off before the wave even travelled half the stadium.
Iryan, the youngest of Fandi's five children, had a ball of a time, though. Wearing a Brazil jersey, he screamed himself hoarse taking part in the half-time entertainment games.
He proudly showed this reporter an autograph on his jersey, over his left shoulder, as he said: "Kaka signed this, you know?" Meanwhile, his dad was happily reminiscing on the days of old.
When asked about the difference between the atmosphere at the National Stadium now and during of his playing days, Fandi, 52, chuckled. He said: "What I can say is that the fans seem more disciplined now. In the past, it was out of control! "Now, the tickets tell you where to sit, and everybody goes to where they're supposed to. "The half-time events are interesting and Iryan likes them... But last time, people didn't need games like these to make noise. "They would be shouting all the way, throwing rolls of toilet paper on the pitch, doing things like that on their own."
Former national skipper Razali Saad, who sat with Fandi last night, feels that the full might of the Kallang Roar will return only when the Singapore national team start winning again. The 50-year-old said: "Tonight, we saw two foreign teams in action, so maybe the fans don't feel the attachment to them. "The crowd made noises only when there were some exciting moments in the match. "The Kallang Roar can come back but, before that, we've got to see a national team that do well gradually, to bring the fans back. "Everyone is hungry for a winning team and, if our Lions can do that, maybe we can see the same atmosphere at the National Stadium like the old days."
This article was first published on Oct 15, 2014.
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