It was a small send-off party for the Singapore National Team as they were checking in for their flight to Perth on 30 October at Changi Airport Terminal 2, with only family members and a few friends turning up. Despite the small turnout, the team was in jubilant mood, ready to shoulder the burden of representing an entire nation at their very first World Minifootball Federation World Cup.
Singapore was definitely dealt a tough hand right from the off, being drawn in the same group as defending champions Czech Republic, Serbia and Chile, nations who not only have a stronger football culture, but who have also taken part in at least one other World Cup thus far. Nevertheless, the team was ready to take the challenge head on.
Singapore’s first game of the tournament was up against the Czech Republic, just 2 days after landing in a climate that was very different to their own and the lack of acclimatization truly showed as they were well beaten 17-0.
After seeing such a score line, most would have assumed that Singapore would be incapable of putting up a fight. Singapore had 6 shots in total with only 2 being on target compared to the 31 shots on target among 49 total shots made the by the Czech. Many feared that this would be the outcome of the rest of the Group Stage matches, but they could not have been more wrong.
Singapore’s second match was up against Chile and a loss here would have almost guaranteed elimination from the tournament. Singapore showed true fighting spirit and quality by taking the game to the Chileans early and got their well-deserved lead in the 4th minute through captain Matthew Shiva, who scored after stealing from a pass at the halfway line, dribbling through on goal to chip the diving keeper.
Singapore appeared to be playing well, stringing passes together and keeping possession of a ball that was elusive in their first game. Unfortunately, this lead was not to last as Chile equalized from a tight angle 4 minutes later. Singapore stood resolute but were beaten once again on 14 minutes when a throw-in was taken down well and fired past goalkeeper Asyraf Asyfar.
Singapore went on to lose 6-1, a product of not being able to create enough chances despite having 48% of possession. They only managed 17 shots in total with 7 of them being on target whereas Chile managed 33 shots with 22 of them on target. While they may have lacked the firepower and were prone to defensive mistakes, it was obvious that this Singapore team was starting to gel together, especially since they managed to hold on to the ball a lot more.
Despite gelling well together, the lack of firepower and defensive frailties showed once again as Singapore was beaten 6-0 in their final match against Serbia. The score does deceive a little from Singapore’s actual performance though as Singapore (52%) actually had more possession than the Serbians but yet again failed to register enough shots to get on the scoreboard, having 7 on target out of 11 shots as compared to 16 on target out of 26 shots for the Serbians.
Despite all this, the Singapore team leaves the tournament with their heads held high. Their performances got better after every match and they stood up to teams that were not only physically bigger but also more experienced. It is a shame that there were not enough matches to show what this team is really capable of but it is our hope that this will catapult Singapore’s presence in the global arena for football.
Footsy is proud to have been the official SportsTech Partner for the Association of Minifootball Singapore and the Singapore team.