Veterans turn back the clock in Sixes comeback triumph
Former Manchester United winger Lee Sharpe and ex-Singapore striker Aleksandar Duric rolled back the years as they combined to help the CLA All Stars secure the Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) International Soccer Sixes Masters title at the Padang on Sunday.
Up against surprise finalists Club Institute of Technical Education, the CLA All Stars found themselves on the verge of a shock upset, as they were trailing by two goals at the break through Dalis Supiat and A. Shasi Kumar.
Sharpe and Duric had other ideas though, as for the umpteenth time in this weekend tournament, they displayed perfect telepathy to overturn the deficit.
It was the 44-year-old Duric who kickstarted the comeback when he earned a penalty after a trip by his marker inside the box early in the second half.
Sharpe confidently stepped up to convert the resulting spot-kick and returned the favour moments later with a deft cross from the left that his partner headed home to level the scores.
Even after the ex-England midfielder departed for a breather on the sidelines following the comeback to force parity, present Tampines Rovers assistant coach Duric made sure of the win with two more goals.
Although the flourishing strike partnership was at least two decades overdue, they praised each other for their part in helping their team to a third straight Masters trophy.
Sharpe placed Duric on a similar pedestal as his former United teammate Mark Hughes, and believed the partnership in this tournament was up with the best he had in his active days.
“Aleks really made a difference, especially after we missed him in the first couple of games,” said the one-time most expensive British teenage footballer.
“He has the fitness and legs, and is a natural finisher. He’s taller than Hughes, but as far as natural goal scoring goes, he is right up there with the best of them.”
Duric joked the duo should come out of retirement to strike more fear into opposing defences after they played a major role in their side’s title success.
“We should have asked whether we could play in some leagues around as striking partners!” he told FourFourTwo.
“Lee Sharpe is such a quality player and it is easy to play with one of such calibre with such top-class passes and assists that made my job of scoring easier.”
SCC Firsts take out Open Category in nail-biting penalty shootout
Meanwhile the SCC Firsts claimed the Open title in a dramatic penalty shootout after regulation and extra times failed to separate them and Indonesian side Medan Kwarta FC at one-all.
The host club opened the scoring in the first half, but found themselves pegged back after a mistake by goalkeeper Steve Angelov gifted the equaliser to the visitors.
A red mist descended on Firsts defender John Spackman after the referee judged his challenge on an Indonesian player a sending off offence, but the reduction in numbers had little effect as the hosts spurned a couple of chances to seal the title.
Down to the shootout after extra time and former Tanjong Pagar United midfielder Sebestien Etiemble missed the opening spot kick, but Angelov made amends from his earlier error with a couple of superb stops to restrict Kwarta to a solitary successful conversion.
It was left to Felicien Dumas and Sam Balls to convert their penalties to hand the Firsts the Open title following a tournament where they showed skill, strength and tenacity from start to finish.
Hong Kong Football Club made it a Plate double in the Masters and Open categories after defeating a SCC Captain’s Select 1-0 and Home United Prime League side 3-2 respectively.
The Youth event saw the Youth Football Home from Thailand retain the title following their show of superiority over local side Muhammadiyah Welfare Home 4-0 in the final.
Photos: Zee Ko/FourFourTwo