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Talent-Spotting At The Lion City Cup Khazmin Juma'in
Tuesday, 21st June 2011 @ 12:17:44 PM
Now that the domestic football season in Europe is over, a whole bunch of guys are being deprived of our regular Premier League and La Liga action. With no major international tournament like the World Cup or Euro being played, the wait till August looks set to be epicly....boring. I've been trying to pay attention to the summer transfer gossip flying about but just last weekend alone, I found out that my club Liverpool was being linked with 35213 players.
The soccer gossip has been insane. Cesc Fabregas - will he or won't he move to Barca? Who the hell is this Alexis Sanchez that all the top clubs want? And will Guus Hiddink really come back to manage Chelsea? Plus, Ryan Giggs - wow, all that yoga is really working out for him, huh? After a while, you just get sick of hearing about the same old stories being recycled.
Thankfully, I have a different football distraction at the moment. The 23rd Canon Lion City Cup is currently underway at Jalan Besar Stadium. This invitational tournament features the Singapore U-15s and U-16s, as well as youth teams from international clubs like Newcastle and Everton (England), Flamengo (Brazil) and Juventus (Italy).
In the past, the Lion City Cup helped unearth future stars for the senior Lions such as Fandi Ahmad, Indra Shahdan and Ahmad Latiff, among some of them. I've caught three matches so far on SuperSports Arena (StarHub Ch 201), which carry the games "live", and I think we may have two or three future stars in the making already.
Our U-15s blew me away with their skillful play and determination on opening day. They came back from 1-3 down to overcome Newcastle 4-3 at the death! It's early, I know, but I am putting my money on the team skipper, Adam Swandi, and their number 11, Azhar Ramli, as two talents to watch out for in future. They stood out with their skill, composure and ability under pressure. Adam, in particular, pulled the strings like a seasoned veteran. Even the senior Lions I've seen aren't that cool on the ball.
The U-16s are the Young Cubs from last year's Youth Olympic Games. The majority of the squad is intact except for injuries that ruled out their first-choice centreback pairing, which includes captain Jeffrey Lightfoot. Despite that setback, they drew 1-1 against 10-man Flamengo in their opening match. I was impressed by Jonathan Tan on the left. His fine run and stepover (would have made Ronaldinho proud) led to Singapore's goal. Hanafi Akbar on the right flank also showed off some fancy footwork. But in truth, a draw was probably a fair result. The Flamengo boys really proved that maybe Brazilian kids are born with a football at their feet and fully deserved their equaliser.
I definitely can't wait to catch our young lads in the rest of their games. Hopefully they can build on their impressive start and go all the way! Even if they don't, at least we know our future looks bright.
The Lion City Cup is ongoing until Sunday, 26 June. More updates and highlights at www.lioncitycup.com or Facebook.
Or follow them on Twitter @CanonLCC