Story by reader Chng Nai Wee
The Cage, Turf City, 23 August 2022 – Two years of enforced rest by the spoiler Covid virus only added to the restlessness among the Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) alumni as seven cohorts battled for bragging rights at the 2nd ACS Knights Eagle Eye Inter-year Soccer Tournament.
With a video-cameraman and a photographer on site to record the proceedings for posterity, the event was bigger and flashier. Once again, the organisers were thankful to William Kristanto (ACS 2000) for his assistance in securing the jerseys and the medals for the tournament, James Loke Pooi Yin (ACS 85) for keeping scores, and Cannes film-maker Derrick Lui Chien Leng (ACSP 1988) for guiding the video documentation.
The curtain-raiser kick-off between the veteran teams of white-draped 1985 and all-red 1989 ended in a goalless stalemate as both sides were overcome by the fear of conceding and played with an abundance of caution.
Defending open champions IBDP 2017, led by Meredeth Chin Choon Siang (IBDP 2017), started the tournament on the wrong foot by surprisingly letting in a goal against the run of play from Lennard Quek (ACS Barker 2003) of camouflaged-jersey debutants ACS 2003. With that opening loss, IBDP 2017 was always struggling to catch up. With the enthusiastic co-ordination of Leong Chi Chao, ACS 2003 threatened to contend for the Championship and set the tongues of the spectators wagging in anticipation.
With the introduction of the Nett Championship Trophy, teams that had a torrid first tournament but were briming with potential, were incentivized to play their best in the latest edition. Based on the last league tournament, bonus points were awarded to teams to equalize their standings in a handicap table. The Trophy allowed teams of average strength to realistically fight for a prize and made every game meaningful.
Fellow debutants deep-blue ACS 2013 was illegible for prizes as the team was short of the players and had to be vastly supplemented with non-alumni semi-professional players from the sponsor team Eagles. Nonetheless, this proved to be a formidable team manned by Colin Chan (ACSI 1998), becoming the undefeated joker in the pack that added some variety and increased the challenge of the tournament. All results relating to 2013 were designated as 0-0 draws.
The competition was bruising and frenetic, as the players coursed from box to box, pelting the goalframe and its keeper in their efforts to score the winning goal. The unrelenting series of games that followed one after another turned this event into a marathon of endurance and grit, where only the team with the most persevering and skilful players linking in formation would prevail in the quiet of the night.
Favourites ACS 2000 dotted with seasoned campaigners such as Poon King Yau (ACSI 2000) and Ian Wu Qianhuang (ACSI 2000) outplayed the opposition with tenacity and determination, grinding out a solitary-goal victory against IBDP 2017 by the diving header of William Kristanto and clinching first place with 12 points in the Open category.
The team in classic JVC cadmium yellow jerseys played out goalless draws against ACS 2003 and 2013, and defeated ACS 85 2-0 with a yet another trade-mark back-flip header by William Kristanto, and crushed ACS 89 3-0.
IBDP 2017 could only settle for 3rd place with 10 points after the two losses, despite destroying the veteran teams of ACS 85 and ACS 89 4-0 each in vengeance.
Black-uniformed ACS 2011 had lost 0-2 to IBDP 2017, and therefore settled for 2nd place with 11 points, but with its bonus nett points of +6, was the outright winner of the Nett Trophy. Representative Seet Ming Wei (ACS Barker 2011) beamed when he stepped forward to collect the trophy, but rued what could have been, as his team had sorely missed the presence of Ngen Ge Liang (ACSI 2011), who was the Most Promising Young Player in the first edition.
The Veteran Cup was won by ACS 85 with 5 points, after the team unexpectedly attained a 1-0 victory against ACS 2003 with a long-curling shot by Chng Nai Wee (ACSS 85) who pushed the ball past a fatigued defender into the penalty box and fired diagonally and speculatively past the surprised keeper. Out of action after the initial games, James Lye (ACSS 85) threw on his teenaged son Jake Lye (ACSI Year 4) in his place, injecting energy, zig-zagging and trickery in the team play. David Lee Yeow Chor, goalkeeper (ACSS85) displayed tenacity and acrobatics in keeping the scorelines more respectable.
ACS 89, who had started the tournament brightly, having a few sons of fathers in the group, retired for the night with 3 points, after conceding the last game from exhaustion and injuries with a walk-over of 0-3 to ACS 2000. The 1-1 draw with ACS 2003, and 0-2 loss to ACS 2011 completed its record for the evening.
Ezra Lim Pin (IBDP 2017) was the tournament top scorer for the second time in a row while Richard Wong of ACS 2000 donned the Top Gloves Award for guarding his fortress best.
Organiser Chng Nai Wee reminded the gathering that the essence and manifestation of ACS neither resided in the physical infrastructure of the school nor in its crest and motto. Rather, the manifestation of ACS was in the expression of its spirit as embodied by each and everyone of us. We are ACS. And with that exhortation, we committed to carry ourselves to a bright and positive future of excellence, camaraderie and hope.
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