Suzuki Cup: Irate fans, ugly scenes

Bottles of water and toilet rolls flew onto the pitch at the National Stadium last night after the referee blew the final whistle in the Group B match between Singapore and Malaysia.

The crowd was angry. The reason?

They felt one of the key reasons the Lions had crashed out of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup was that of some awful decision-making by Oman referee Al Kaf Ahmed Abu Bakar Said, who awarded what looked like a soft penalty in injury time to Malaysia.

Riot police were called in about 10 minutes after the match and stood in front of irate fans crowding around the tunnel, but the crowd dispersed after the match officials were ushered into the tunnel amid police presence.

Just a few hours earlier, the atmosphere in the National Stadium had been quite different.

The 12th man had delivered ther promise by making their presence felt in the National Stadium.

A total of 48,183 fans showed up for the Causeway Derby against Malaysia and there were many who still fondly remembered the atmosphere at the old Kallang Stadium, and wanted to create the same atmosphere at the Lions' new home.

"I still remember the fans stomping their feet during the games at the old National Stadium and I expect it to be the same today," said Zohri Senin, 35 , who was at the game with his wife and two young daughters.

"I was not able to attend the previous two games but this game is a must simply because it's Malaysia!"

After Singapore's 2-1 loss to Thailand last Sunday, national coach Bernd Stange said that it was only then that he understood what the phrase "Kallang Roar" meant.

But the roar that day was nothing compared to what was on display at the National Stadium last night .

In this do-or-die match, the Lions supporters rolled back the years to remind everyone that the Kallang Roar still had some bite.

But the home crowd fell silent after Malaysia took a well-deserved lead through Safee Sali in the 61st minute, only to be roused each time the Lions went near the Malaysian goal.

When Khairul Amri scored the equaliser in the 83rd minute, the fans found their voice and roared in approval.

But it was not to be as Malaysia were awarded a penalty in injury time and Safiq Rahim duly converted from the spot to give his team a 2-1 lead.

Indra Mahayuddin then added the final sucker punch in the 94th minute to send the Lions crashing out of the tournament.

The Malaysians' celebration at the final whistle did not go down well with the home supporters and sparked some ugly behaviour from a small section of the fans.

"It was an emotional match, not helped by some questionable refereeing decisions," said Colin Lim, 37.

The Melbourne-based accountant had flown back to Singapore to attend a friend's wedding and decided to watch the match.

"I would still support them in the future," he said after the match. "You win some, you lose some."

This article was first published on Nov 30, 2014.
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