Story by Koh Yizhe/Red Sports. Photos by Tan Jon Han/Red Sports
The Manchester United Premier Cup 2010 gives school teams a chance to represent Singapore in the regional final in Bangkok where the winner will earn a trip to play at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. (Photo 1 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
St. Patrick's School, Saturday, March 27, 2010 - Favourites Singapore Sports School won all their matches in Group E to qualify for the second round of the Manchester United Premier Cup (MUPC) together with home side St. Patrick's School who edged out Bedok View Secondary for second spot.
Although St. Patrick's lost their opening match to Sports School by a slim one-nil score line, they bounced back, beating everyone, including fancied Bedok View, by the same 1-0 score line. That left Bedok View needing to beat Sports School in the final match of the day, but despite their valiant efforts, they failed to do so and lost 1-2.
The MUPC is a worldwide football tournament that gives talented footballers under the age of 15 a chance to showcase their skills and talent and come up against other young footballers around the globe. The tournament is jointly sponsored by Nike and Manchester United as part of their commitment to grassroots development.
The winning team from Singapore will go through to the SEA Regional Finals in Thailand where they will face other strong winning teams from Asia. The winner of the Regional Finals will get a chance to participate in the Global Finals held in Manchester.
National team players such as Baihakki Khaizan, Shahril Ishak and Khairul Amri participated in the tournament back when they were under-15.
In Round 1, Round 2 and the quarter-finals, teams play 20-minute games while from semi-finals onwards, the games are 40 minutes.
Group E's opening match pitted Sports School against St. Patrick's which resulted in a 1-0 win for Sports School. After a goalless first half and a few nervous moments in their penalty box, Sports School sealed all three points through Andin Addie Djayady after St. Patrick’s defense fell asleep and failed to clear their lines. A St. Patrick's player had a great opportunity to steal a point at the death, but his attempted chip went over.
Sports School went on to dominate the other teams, hitting seven goals past both Assumption Pathway School and Tanglin Secondary (Team B) while conceding none.
"So far so good for my team," analysed Sports School's coach Amin Nasir, an ex-national player. "I am pleased with what I see so far. As my boys are only secondary ones and twos, I don't place any expectations on them. I told them that any result is an achievement already."
"We want to win it!" said Sports School's captain Adam Bin Swandi. "I am very excited about the chance to go to Old Trafford! However, it is still a long way to go."
"Bedok View will be our toughest opponent in this group. They look very skillful and don't give up easily. Later when we play them, I hope to beat them 3-0," added Adam.
Sports School striker Andin Addie Djayady Bin was also enthused about the tournament.
"It will be a dream come through if I could go to Manchester to see them play. It is definitely a great opportunity!"
Indeed, Bedok View had a great start to the tournament, thrashing Tanglin Secondary (Team B) 5-0 in their opening match before doing the same to Assumption Pathway School, overwhelming them 6-0.
Captain Nur Iskandar commented on his team's performance after their opening two matches.
"We'll be looking for a draw against St. Patrick's," said Nur Iskandar after his side thrashed Tanglin and Assumption Pathway. "Then it will make it easier against Sports School. We have been doing well so far as we are playing as a team and scoring plenty of goals. We have also been taking our chances. Our striker (Osalli Rahim) has been scoring quite a few goals. Our target is to make it past the first round."
"Being a Manchester United fan, the prize of this tournament means a lot to me. I think it provides us with a good opportunity as young players to go to Old Trafford and learn from the best," continued Iskandar.
However, when up against St. Patrick’s, who managed to grind out 1-0 and 2-0 wins against Assumption Pathway and Tanglin respectively, they were unable to pull out a victory, losing 0-1.
That left them in a difficult position of having to beat Sports School in the final match. Once again, they pulled up short, falling 2-1.
As a result, Sports School finished the first round unbeaten while St. Patrick's finish second in Group E with nine points.
Both Sports School and St. Patrick's now go through to Round 2 with 18 other qualifying teams where they will be split into groups of five each. The top two for each group will progress further into the quarter-finals.
Round 2 will commence on Saturday, April 3rd, 2010.
Singapore Sports School (Team A, red) defending a corner by Tanglin (Team B, yellow). (Photo 2 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
A Tanglin player sliding in for a tackle. (Photo 3 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Osalli (Bedok View Sec #9, in blue) executing a bicycle kick in an attempt to score. (Photo 4 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Sports School coach Amin Nasir handing down new gameplay instructions to his players during half-time. (Photo 5 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
The closest you will ever want to get to a Nike football boot. A Bedok View player just manages to avoid coming into contact with Tanglin’s goalkeeper. (Photo 6 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Andin Addie Djayady (Sports School #14) unsuccessfully attempts a bicycle kick. (Photo 7 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
The Tanglin goal keeper stretches to keep another Bedok View strike out of goal. (Photo 8 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
A mad scramble at the goal mouth as Sports School players attempt to connect with a cross to score. (Photo 9 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Never be behind the goalkeeper, as these two Sports School players found out, after their teammate rammed one into goal. (Photo 10 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
A St. Patrick’s School player successfully heads one into goal after Assumption Pathway School’s goalkeeper failed to get a hold on it. (Photo 11 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Andin Addie Djayady (Sports School #14) swamped by his teammates after scoring the opening goal of the day. (Photo 12 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)
Wan Rahmadani (Bedok View #19) celebrates as he watches a successful strike by his teammate. (Photo 13 © Tan Jon Han/Red Sports)