SEA Games: Fans with real passion

In the spanking new Zayar Thiri Stadium, a smattering of Singlish punctured the eerie silence of 6,000 fans sprinkled around the 30,000-seater on Tuesday.

During and after the game in which Singapore U-23 beat the Vietnam U-23 1-0, someone shouted: "Come on, Hariss! Baik, Young Lions! We believe in you, Aide!"

The voices came from two Singapore die-hard fans who made the 2,800- km trip to Naypyidaw to support the Young Lions.

For Akbar Hashim and Faris Razak, they had no qualms about spending $800 each for a five-day, four-night trip.

"Everyone knows about my passion for Singapore football," said Akbar, a 52-yearold tour operator who conducts tours for fans when local teams such as LionsXII play overseas.

"There were a few obstacles to get to Myanmar, such as the changing of the fixture dates and the tedious visa application process.

"But I'm a die-hard fan so I have to be here, even if it's just for the first two games."

With Akbar was 40-year-old clerical officer Faris, visiting Myanmar for the first time.

He said: "This could be the last time I see this strong Under-23 team before they move on.

"I can't take so many days' leave, but barring any visa issues, I'll be back if the Young Lions qualify for the semi-finals."

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