By Stefanus Ian/Red Sports. Photos by Adrian Tan/Red Sports
Captain Adam Swandi (#10) on his way to scoring the third goal for the Singapore U15s. (Photo 1 © Adrian Tan/Red Sports)
Jalan Besar Stadium, Sunday, June 26, 2011 — Poor refereeing set the stage for the Singapore U15 team to grab third place after they dispatched Juventus FC U15 4-0. Singapore led 1-0 at half time.
Fabio Gili (Juventus FC U15 #7) was sent off in the 52nd minute with his team trailing 0-1, after receiving a second yellow from referee Muhd Yazeen for questioning a throw-in decision. Referee Yazeen had mistakenly given Gili a first yellow card in the first half which should have gone to Stefano Antezza (#10) instead.
The Juventus team officials were clearly furious at the end of the match and Ricardo Cavallari, the Juventus team manager, launched into a tirade at the press conference.
“The referee made the mistake the first time. Our number ten (Stefano Antezza) went to him and said, “It was me, you should book me”, but he went for number seven (Fabio Gili). When number seven threw the ball down, yellow card again. Out. You tell me. I feel sad. I feel sorry. You have a major, major problem with your refereeing,” said Cavallari.
This was the third consecutive game that one of their players had been shown a red card.
Attila Malfatti, the Juventus coach, was clearly frustrated with the refereeing as he commented after the game: “My players were fantastic, they did everything and they gave not 100 but 200% … We finished the tournament winning the Newcastle and the U15 with a normal referee. Losing at penalties with the U16 and everyone saw how and tonight it’s better to have no comments, no?”
The Cubs mercilessly finished off the Italian giants after Gili’s sending off with another three goals in the last 30 minutes of the game. Dejan Gluscevic, the Singapore U15 coach, refused to comment on the refereeing, preferring to talk about his Cubs’ achievements.
“It was a very high intensity game for the U15 boys. My boys never played four games in a row but they kept their composure, patience and survived the game,” said Gluscevic.
Captain Adam Swandi (Singapore U15 #10) felt his team deserved the victory.
“We managed to win the game because of the effort we give in and not because of the referee,” said Adam.
Turning out in their usual 4-5-1 formation, the Singapore U15 team was eager to erase the memories of their 3-0 drubbing by Flamengo in the semi-final. However, it was not the smoothest of start for the Cubs with Juventus hitting the left goalpost with a header in the second minute. Perhaps it was nerves or the hot afternoon sun but their passes were too predictable and lacked their usual sharpness.
Singapore held a high defensive line as they looked to catch the Italians offside. Denied of space in their defensive third, Juventus began to make mistakes as the Cubs took advantage. In the 19th minute, Juventus defenders cracked under pressure and Azhar Ramli (Singapore U15 #11) was quick to pounce on the mistake as he stole the ball and shot from just inside the box. However, the goalkeeper was positioned well to deal with the volley.
The home side’s energetic defending finally bore fruit in the 27th minute. Azhar was again in the mix of things. Chasing down what seemed like a lost cause, he managed to prevent the ball from crossing the goal line for a goal kick, and redirecting it back towards Irfan Iezran (Singapore U15 #9). The Singapore forward was given the time and space to control and turn before sending his shot into the bottom left corner.
With Gili sent off for a second yellow card offense, Singapore began to dominate and scored their second goal in the 63rd minute. After putting the ball through the legs of his marker, Irfan continued pushing forward before laying off the ball for the onrushing Azhar Ramli (Juventus FC U15 #11) who unleashed a screamer into the top right hand corner of the goal.The Cubs were in the driving seat now.
Adam Swandi (Singapore U15 #10) capped off his man-of-the-match performance with a goal of his own in the 69th minute. Forcing his way through the middle of the opponent’s defense, he finished off the move with a cool finish into the left side of the goal to beat the onrushing goalkeeper.
In another controversial refereeing moment, Azhar Ramli completed the rout six minutes from the end of normal time through a penalty. A sweet through ball found Faizal Raffi (Singapore U15 #18) in the box but the referee deemed the seemingly good challenge by the Juventus defender worthy of a penalty. Azhar made no mistake, sending the keeper the wrong way to seal the match 4-0.
When asked if they would be willing to come back if they were invited again next year, Juventus’ Ricardo Cavallari said: “If you call referees from Spain or Germany, we’ll be here. We like it here, we like the people. They are treating us very well. Everybody is very friendly with us except the referee.”
Juventus FC U15 Line-up: Entonjo Elejaz (#12), Federico Crepaldi (#2), Andrea Pagliasso (#3), Niccolo Guiducci (#4), Davide Faverato (#5), Fabio Gili (#7), Andrea Giannarelli (#8), Nicholas Varetto (#9), Stefano Antezza (#10), Andrea Marra (#16)
Singapore U15 Line-up: Heirul Suhanes (#1), Ehvin Sasidharan (#2), Mahathir Azeman (#3), Sadik Said (#4), R Aaravin (#5), Amirul Azmi (#6), Zulfadhmi Suzliman (#7), Muhelmy Suhaimi (#8), Irfan Iezran (#9), Adam Swandi (#10), Azhar Ramli (#11)
Man-of-the-Match: Adam Swandi (Singapore U15 #10)
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