SCC Int’l Soccer Sixes looking to expose more Singaporean talent
Torrential rain failed to mar the Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) International Soccer Sixes tournament at the Padang last weekend as teams across different categories enjoyed their annual competitive kickabouts.
In the Youth category, the talented team from Cambodia, Phnom Penh Crown FC, beat Thai team Youth Football Home 2-0 in the final to emerge as champions.
Meanwhile in the hotly-contested 16-team Open Category where players from the region including Malaysia, Thailand and Japan featured, it was Malaysia’s Felda United who beat the home ground favourites SCC Firsts 2-0 to come up tops and bring home the Cup.
Last but not least in the highly anticipated final of the Masters Category, defending SCC Soccer Sixes champions CLA All Stars took on Jurong Weston Corporation again after a 1-1 draw in their last meeting in the round robin matches. The CLA All Stars won this time 2-0 as star players Ray Parlour of Arsenal fame and PJ Roberts, former S.League player, both scored to seal back-to-back titles for the team.
It was a truly enjoyable experience for those who were involved, including the players, spectators and organisers.
“I enjoyed playing with Ray,” said renowned TV presenter Richard Lenton who featured in the winning CLA All Stars side.
“This year we have three good additions; we have Ray instead of Nigel Winterburn, we have former Singapore international John Wilkinson and also PJ Roberts.
"Ray, by his own admission, wasn’t as fit as Nigel but he’s still obviously a top player. Physically he can’t do what he used to do, but he still has the footballing brain in him. Six-a-side is quite difficult for me who used to play 11-a-side, so it’s good to have people like Ray who have the nous to ensure everyone plays in the right positions.”
“It’s a great opportunity to play in this tournament,” said current Johor Darul Ta’zim assistant coach Nenad Bacina, who featured along with the likes of former S.League players Dalis Supait, Esad Sejdic and Mojtaba Tehranizadeh for Jurong Weston Corporation.
“It’s very competitive and of course I enjoyed myself catching up with some old friends. The standard is very good, there are many good players even though some have aged and put on weight!”
Current Balestier Khalsa players Goran Ljubojevic and Emir Lotinac also made the effort to come down and watch their coach Marko Kraljevic in action for Jurong Weston Corporation.
“We knew he was playing today so we just came down to surprise him,” said Ljubojevic.
“We have to support him because he supports us all the way.
I think it’s nice to see this kind of competition, it requires more imagination and more vision. The players (in the Masters category) played 20 to 30 years ago and they have a higher level of technique than the newer generation. It’s just like futsal; I always play futsal with my friends for about four hours every day after training.”
While describing Marko’s technique as ‘unbelievable’, the Croatian shared in a light-hearted moment that his coach could perhaps do better in other areas.
“I noticed that coach did not follow up on the striker after the shot on goal rebounded,” he said.
“He always tells us to follow, but now he didn’t do it. So we’re going to tell him after the match!”
For tournament chairman Owen Monaghan, it was a satisfying sixth edition of the tournament despite some setbacks.
“I think it was a very open competition and we’ve seen some good stuff,” he told FourFourTwo.
“The format this year was pretty much the same as previous years, the only change was perhaps there was a bit more diversity in terms of teams from the region. We have an Australian side last year but unfortunately we are unable to bring them back this time round due to scheduling issues.
"Meanwhile we have the likes of the Kelantan Under-21 team which won their league in Malaysia and also Felda who looked sharp and technically gifted.”
Looking forward, Monaghan hopes the competition can improve on two aspects – more spectators and more Singaporean representatives.
S.League sides Albirex Niigata (Singapore), Geylang International, as well as the Singapore Under-23 side were supposed to be the mix but all three pulled out due to their hectic playing schedules.
“The aim is to expose the best Asian talent in this tournament,” he said.
“In order for that, we need to have Singaporean teams and have them playing against the best in the region.
"Also it’s always our struggle to make an impact on the people and get crowds in.
"We’re trying in terms of working with the Football Association of Singapore(FAS) to get more representation of Singapore Prime League teams and also their supporters in, so that we can bring this tournament to this next level.
"That’s my goal and hopefully with the help of FAS and our PR company, Full Circle PR, and a few others, we will get there.”