Archivi categoria: Exclusive Interviews
We want to reach the semi-finals at the SEA Games: interview with Football Federation Cambodia (FFC) technical director May Tola
Stagnation is the most appropriate word to define the status quo of Cambodian football. The men’s national team of the former Khmer Empire has lost all the matches played in 2012 and 2013, and its most recent results have been a 0-7 thumping by Turkmenistan and a 0-8 annihilation from Southeast Asian counterparts Philippines. Also, Cambodia’s position in the FIFA Ranking is currently at 199, the team’s lowest ever.
However, the governing body of local football, the FFC (Football Federation Cambodia), is eager to reverse the trend and give disappointed Cambodian fans something to cheer about in the near future, especially by growing up local talents who could help the national team’s cause.
We spoke to FFC technical director May Tola to discover what’s in store for Cambodian football in the years to come.
How is Cambodian football progressing at grassroots level? Does the FFC have any plan to increase the number of areas where it’s currently played?
Grassroots football in Cambodia is increasing popularity and it’s played more and more by community, schools as well as NGOs. We see that every year, more football activities/events have been organized by the aforementioned institutions to provide opportunities for children and people to take part in football. In our long term development of football, grassroots is one of our top priorities. We will be increasing activities mainly at provincial level and at schools to promote the game among children and adults.
Cambodia has a great percentage of youth people. Do you think their interest is growing in these last years?
Yes, there are more youth teams and players who play football officially and unofficially each year.
Where do you think Cambodian football should improve most in this moment?
We will have to reform our competitions structure and format to provide more opportunities to play football nation-wide. In this moment, because of limited infrastructures (stadiums, pitches etc), football is more organized and played in Phnom Penh, while there is a much greater number of youth footballers in all provinces and districts. We need to have more coaches, volunteers, teachers to be football educators and leaders in our community.
Which are the chances of seeing overseas-based half-Cambodian players, such as Chhunly Pagenburg of FSV Frankfurt and Colorado Rapids’ Davy Armstrong, wearing the national team’s shirt in the future?
We have been contacting Chhunly and Davy Armstrong for the last few years, but it seems that they had to give priority to their professional career in Germany and USA. We always welcome overseas-based players for Cambodia.
Do you think there are Cambodian players who could play abroad at professional level? If yes, could you name some of them?
There are some Cambodians from Australia, France that came for a trial but they have not been successful. As I don’t have much information about others, I can’t say who can or cannot play for the country. But, the fact that there are some players currently in professional leagues such as Chhunly and Davy Armstrong, means that they have good quality.
Which are Cambodia targets for the upcoming SEA Games in Myanmar?
We have to be realistic, if we set our target for the last four [the semi-finals] of the tournament and we manage to do it, then it would be an enormous victory, [it would be] historical and also a big surprise, which could always happen in football. Any target lower than this, won’t make any impression.
Why did the team perform so poorly in the last qualifiers for the 2012 Suzuki Cup and 2014 Challenge Cup? Which were the biggest problems and weaknesses in your opinion?
The problem is the quality of our league (players’ performances, level of coaching, duration of the league), which is still low compared to the [Southeast Asian] region. Another problem was the preparation of the team, which was very short and in poor conditions, and all this made the players’ spirit not very tough and stable.
Which has been the influence of politics in Cambodian football in the past? And what about now?
The influences of politics in Cambodian football have been more positive than negative. The positive thing is that politicians give more support financially, with materials and infrastructures which are needed for football. However, sometimes politicians use football for their own individual interests, circles, parties, but not in the name of the nation which should be the motto of the game.
What are your thoughts about ASEAN football in general? Do you think the region is improving in the right direction?
ASEAN football has been an additional platform to improve politics, culture, solidarity and of course football technical development as well as economic interests of its members. These benefits have been stable or gradually improving in last years. However, recent political chaos in the world from FIFA to AFC and all the other continents has influenced ASEAN spirit and solidarity. But I’m confident that, by believing in the good nature of experienced people in ASEAN now and in the future, they can agree with each other for the development of the game and share it with all the members.
By Christian Rizzitelli
Highlights of Cambodia’s 4-2 win over Laos in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers on June 29, 2011,, the team’s last competitive victory:
Cambodia’s last defeat against the Philippines:
“Stiamo lentamente attirando interesse”: intervista con Charles Mitchell, presidente della federazione delle Palau (PFA)
Il piccolo arcipelago delle Palau non è certamente noto ai più per i suoi exploit calcistici, non avendo mai partecipato ad alcun torneo organizzato dalla FIFA o in nessun altra competizione ufficiale. Tuttavia, recentemente la federazione locale, la Palau Football Association (PFA), ha presentato alcuni progetti ambiziosi che potrebbero dar inizio ad un primo, vero movimento calcistico sulle isole. Nonostante alcune difficoltà oggettive, come una popolazione di soli 20,000 abitanti e il continuo confronto con lo sport dominante sulle Palau, il baseball, il presidente Charles Mitchell e lo staff della PFA sono fiduciosi che il futuro prossimo del calcio sulle isole riserverà molte più sorprese di quanto ci si possa aspettare.
Asianoceanianfootball lo ha intervistato per scoprire i piani futuri, gli obiettivi e l’attuale progresso del calcio sulle piccole e remote – ma non demotivate – Palau.
Quando fu introdotto il calcio sulle Palau per la prima volta?
Per quanto ne sappia, il calcio fu organizzato e giocato per la prima volta negli anni novanta, ma ho sentito anche di partite di calcio giocate all’inizio degli anni settanta. La PFA venne formata ufficialmente nel 2002, e diventò una federazione posta sotto l’egida del comitato olimpico delle Palau (Palau National Olympic Committee).
Quante possibilità ci sono di vedere la nazionale delle Palau ai prossimi Giochi del Pacifico e ai Giochi di Micronesia?
C’è una grande possibilità di giocare ai Giochi del Pacifico. Per quanto riguarda i Giochi della Micronesia, dipende se il paese organizzatore lo aggiungerà [il calcio] al programma. Il problema più grande per le isole micronesiane è mettere insieme funzionari adeguati, strutture per giocare e strumenti [necessari].
Quanto sono vicine le Palau a diventare un membro effettivo dell’EAFF, la federazione di calcio dell’Asia dell’Est?
In questo momento, le Palau si trovano in una fase di stallo con l’EAFF. Noi mandammo una richiesta nel 2008 ma da allora non abbiamo ricevuto alcuna risposta. La PFA non possiede un contatto diretto con l’EAFF.
La nazionale delle Tuvalu, un’altra nazione del Pacifico non iscritta alla FIFA, recentemente è migliorata molto grazie all’aiuto di una fondazione di volontari olandesi muniti di tanta passione, e ora le Tuvalu sono vicine come non mai a diventare un membro ufficiale della FIFA. Pensi che un aiuto del genere proveniente dall’estero possa rivelarsi utile anche per le Palau? E dov’è che la federazione ha più bisogno d’aiuto?
Sì, penso che un aiuto del genere possa risultare utile. Anche se, in un certo senso, è una sorta di terno al lotto perché la maggior parte di queste fondazioni dovrebbe fornirci cose che non possiamo permetterci come i biglietti per gli aerei e i posti in cui alloggiare. È molto difficile acquistare tutto questo visto che la PFA è composta interamente da volontari e non ha fondi a sufficienza. Direi che il nostro più grande bisogno riguarda le risorse umane e il personale per l’amministrazione.
Qual è il posto riservato al calcio nella gerarchia sportiva delle Palau?
Il calcio nelle Palau è attualmente in fondo alla gerarchia degli sport ma lentamente sta attirando interesse.
Ci potresti dare una presentazione delle squadre che competono nella Palau Soccer League, il campionato palauano?
Tutte le informazioni sul campionato palauano possono essere trovare sul sito ufficiale della federazione, www.palaufootball.sportingpulse.net
Visto che non siete ancora un membro della FIFA, pensi che le Palau possano giocare in alcuni tornei riservati esclusivamente alle nazionali non iscritte alla FIFA, come la VIVA World Cup o gli Island Games?
Noi lo speriamo, ma è ancora da definire.
Quanto è importante lo sport nello stile di vita della gente palauana?
Gli sport giocano un ruolo importante nella cultura delle Palau. Lo sport aiuta a farsi un carattere e fornisce gli strumenti per diventare un cittadino produttivo nella società.
Quali sono gli obiettivi primari della PFA per i prossimi mesi?
I nostri obiettivi primari sono di continuare ad organizzare regolarmente il campionato nazionale e dopo [di creare] dei centri sportivi scolastici e un campionato giovanile. C’è anche la volontà di introdurre il calcio nelle scuole superiori, ma [un piano] non è ancora stato stabilito ufficialmente.
Di Christian Rizzitelli
“We’re slowly gaining interest”: Interview with Palau Football Association (PFA) president Charles Mitchell
The tiny archipelago of Palau may be very little known for its footballing achievements, having never competed in any FIFA tournament nor in any other official competition. But there are ambitious plans, mainly from the local federation, the Palau Football Association (PFA), that could make the future much more different from what we’ve seen so far. Despite having to face some difficulties, such as a restrict population of only 20,000 and the local domination of other sports, especially baseball, almost worshipped as a religion on Palau, president Charles Mitchell and the PFA staff are confident that a proper footballing culture could be set up on the islands in the near future.
Asianoceanianfootball spoke to him to discover future plans, targets and the current progress of football on the remote and tiny – but not demotivated – Palau.
When football was played first in Palau?
As far as I know, football was organized and played in the late 90’s but have heard of football being introduced and played in the early 70’s. In 2002 PFA was officially formed and became a federation under the Palau National Olympic Committee.
How many chances are there to see Palau national football team playing the next South Pacific Games? And Micronesian Games?
There is a great chance to compete in the South Pacific Games. As for the Micronesian Games, it depends on if the host country will add to their program. The biggest challenge for most of the Micronesian islands is putting forth proper officials, playing facilities, and equipment.
How close is Palau from becoming a full member of the EAFF?
At this moment, Palau is at a stand still with the EAFF. An application was submitted in 2008 and no response since. The PFA has no direct contact with the EAFF.
Tuvalu national football team, another non-FIFA member Pacific nation, has improved a lot in last two years thanks to the help of a Dutch foundation created by passioned volunteers in the Netherlands, and now they are very close to get their FIFA membership. Do you think this kind of help from abroad could help Palau? And where Palauan football needs help most?
I do believe this assistance could help. Though in a way it’s kind of a “catch 22” because most of these organizations need for us to provide items we can’t afford such as: plane tickets and accommodations. It’s very difficult to acquire these items being that the PFA is made up of all volunteers and lack of funding. I’d say our biggest need would be human resources and administration.
Which is the state of football in Palau sport hierarchy?
Palau football is currently at the low end of the hierarchy but slowly gaining interest.
Can you give us a presentation of the teams competing in the Palau Soccer League?
All the info can be found on the PFA official website, www.palaufootball.sportingpulse.net
As you are still to become a FIFA member, do you think Palau national team could play in some non-FIFA international tournaments, such as VIVA World Cup or the Islands Games?
We hope, but it is yet to be determined.
How much important are sports in Palauan people’s culture?
Sports play a big role in the Palauan culture. Sports help create character and provide the tools to become a productive citizen of society.
Which are the PFA current primary goals for next months?
Our primary goals are to continue the sustainability of our Adult League and after school clinics as well as create a youth league. There is also an interest to introduce the sport to high schools, but yet to be official.
By Christian Rizzitelli
We are all ready to live the dream at the Confederations Cup: Interview with Tahiti international Tamatoa Wagemann
A former RC Strasbourg youth, with plenty of experience in France and Switzerland, Tahiti and AS Dragon defender Tamatoa Wagemann has certainly played a major role in the island’s rise to the world stage of football, as they will live a once-in-a-lifetime experience when they will play in the next Confederations Cup against Nigeria, Spain and Uruguay, one of the finest national teams in the world.
When were you contacted first by the FTF (Fédération Tahitienne de Football) to play for the Tahitian national team and how did you get involved with them?
I’ve been contacted for the first time in 2006 by the national team coach to play two friendly matches against New Zealand, which both ended 0-0. I was playing in Switzerland in the 2.Liga [with FC Alle].
Which were Tahiti’s expectations before the OFC Nations Cup last year?
I wanted to go there to win any match because I knew we had a great potential, despite before the start of the tournament we certainly were not the favorites.
How did you react after New Zealand’s elimination?
I was not surprised, because I followed the other match [New Zealand-New Caledonia 0-2] on tv and I saw that they were in trouble, heat was revealing to be a true problem for them.
In your opinion, where Tahitian football must improve most?
I think [it must improve] especially the standard of tackles and physical condition.
How is the country preparing for the next Confederations Cup? And the team?
The federation has set up an excellent organization to prepare this competition in three months, we’re signed to a contract and we are 100% at the service of the national team like professional footballers! We train twice a day, we have access to doctors, sessions of muscular training, physiotherapy etc…
Which is the current role of football in Tahiti?
Football is a bit in decline in our island since last few years, because it’s especially beach soccer and futsal the sports that attire most our youth. However our win at the Nations Cup has a bit saved football in Tahiti.
Why hasn’t Tahiti performed as expected in the last World Cup qualifiers?
The first reason is the lack of rhythm, because the first matches of the World Cup qualification have been played in August while the Tahitian championship [Tahiti First Division] started only in October. We didn’t have our best debut and it was difficult to recover from that.
What do you think of Tahiti’s results at the last Coupe d’Outre Mer in September?
I think we played a good tournament, especially considering our win over Martinique who were the reigning champions. We finished ex aequo at the first place but we didn’t qualify for the semi-finals because of the goal difference, it was a pity because we had the potential to go to the final.
Do you think that Tahiti’s connections with France could help them improve their level of football?
I don’t have the impression that France is helping us much, I think they could do much more but that’s all about politics and that’s not my area of interest.
Do you think that there are some Tahitian players who could play professional football? Could you name some of them?
Yes, without any doubt! There are some young players who have the skills to play professional football, I’m thinking of Alvin Tehau, Donovan Bourebare, Steevy Chong Hue.
Our last question: which are you future goals of the season and of your career?
I’ve just won the championship and the Tahiti Cup with AS Dragon, we are totally focused on the OFC Champions League and we’ve just beaten Auckland City [the current champions] 3-1 away. We have still two matches to play and qualify for the semi-finals and that would be great for Tahitian football. In June we have the Confederations Cup in Brazil and I take it as a reward, because there’s nothing better than ending [the career] with a competition like this!
By Christian Rizzitelli
EXCLUSIVE – From the Netherlands with love: Tuvaluan heroes Alopua Petoa and Vaisua Liva speak on their unbelievable European experience
By Christian Rizzitelli
October 5, 2012 was one of the days that Tuvaluan people would have never thought to live. A country with just 10,544 dwellers (according to the last census in July 2011), and extremely isolated from the rest of the world, has little chance of getting noticed in a continent like Europe, especially if we’re talking about football, many of you would think. However that day, this apparently unrealizable thing occurred for real. Two little known boys from the tiny island, Alopua Petoa and Vaisua Liva, managed to fly to the Netherlands for a three-month internship with VV Brabantia, a Dutch club currently playing in the country’s sitxh division, thanks to the superhuman work from the Dutch support Tuvalu, an ambitious foundation whose target is to make Tuvalu a member of the FIFA in a few years.
We asked Frank Westerink, a member of the association’s team, our questions, to discover how things have gone so far for the boys, who couldn’t have answered themselves as their English is still improving.
Describe how things have gone so far for Alopua and Vaisua in the Netherlands.
Both Alopua and Vaisua are very happy so far. They really gained a lot of new experience. They saw sheep for the first time! It’s getting colder and colder in Eindhoven [where they’re currently living] so they both have to get used to that. They even had white smoke coming out of their mouths without smoking! Football also is going good. Alopua and Vaisua are both getting better and better and are really part of VV Brabantia B, they even had the chanse to play with the first team and they made a lot of new friends at the club.
How have they settled down in the Netherlands? Was it easy to adapt to a completely different environment from Tuvalu?
Alopua and Vaisua have adapted to their new enviroment quickly. They gained a lot of new experience but were well looked after by people from the Foundation Dutch support Tuvalu and their football club VV Brabantia. With their personal guides they have all the possibilities to enjoy Eindhoven as much as possible.
What do they miss of their country?
Alopua and Vaisua do miss Tuvaluan fish! In Tuvalu everybody eats fish every day, in Eindhoven they eat a lot of other things. They miss the nice weather as well. It’s too cold in Eindhoven in autumm and winter, and of course Alopua is missing his girlfriend in Tuvalu.
What Tuvaluan people thought when they left for this new extraordinary experience?
In Tuvalu people were very proud and concerned. Proud because they would be the first men to go to the Netherlands to play football, for both of them it’s a huge experience. People were so happy and are hoping many more will follow. The football association, the government and the people of Tuvalu are following almost every step the boys are making.
But also they were concerned as well for the safety of the boys. The football club and the Foundation DsT were able to gain the trust of the people of Tuvalu and then they could eventually come to the Netherlands.
Which is the thing they appreciate most of football in the Netherlands?
The high level and the high speed. In Tuvalu football is at a good level but is played with a slow speed, mostly because of the bad condition of the football field. The field and the accomodation are of a high level as well at VV Brabantia, it’s almost perfect. Their coaches and team mates give them many advice as well, they do appreciate that a lot. Everybody is trying to make them better players.
Which has been their greatest moment since arriving at Brabantia
There have been many great moments. They played against FC Eindhoven, a professional Dutch club of the Eerste Divisie, they have been skiing and went to a match of PSV. The stadium was full with 40,000 people, while Tuvalu only has about 12,000 habitants [they saw more people in just a stadium than in their whole country!]. Of course they have been visiting some bars in Eindhoven as well with their teammates and they spent with them great evenings.
Did they meet some Dutch people who had already heard of Tuvalu? If yes, what do they think about the country?
There are really just a few people in the Netherlands who know about Tuvalu. Everybody of VV Brabantia knows a little bit about Tuvalu but most of them became interested when they knew Alopua and Vaisua were coming to Eindhoven. People at the gym of Vaisua and Alopua knew a little bit as well. Most people do know that Foppe de Haan was head coach of Tuvalu last year for a few weeks. In general this has been hugely new in the Netherlands.
Which is the biggest difference between them and the Dutch players they’ve been playing with?
Of course the biggest difference is the language! The thing that is most in common is the passion for football. Vaisua and Alopua are playing in a team of their own level. They get challenged by some players that are better, of course, but there is not much difference between Dutch players and them. There is one big difference for the clubs: in the Netherlands football clubs have many teams, for youth, women and men, while in Tuvalu most clubs only have two or three teams.
What Tuvalu football should do to improve their game?
Right now the most important thing is a new football field. The Tuvalu stadium has a terrible field, if it has rained a lot the pitch can’t be played at all. The field at VV Brabantia is made of artificial turf and is great to play at. It gives the players the change to play the best possible and it makes the game faster.
Besides that it’s important that the youth of Tuvalu are going to play football, both at school and at clubs. The real skills get developed during the youth and many Tuvalu players haven’t played enough football during while being young.
What needs to be done to spread a football culture in Oceania in their opinion?
There is already a football culture in Oceania but for the smaller countries it’s difficult to set up football as one of their most important sports. For countries like Australia and New Zealand is far easier. However the recent results of Tahiti are fantastic for Oceania, they will play at the Confederations Cup, an amazing result for them and the continent. For the smaller Pacific islands these results are important, as there is a big competitions with other sports like Rugby. However with time the best sport will get the most attention.
What do they do in their spare time in the Netherlands?
Alopua and Vaisua are very often in the gym. They are trying to gain more and more muscles! They do play a lot of football games at the Play-Station as well and they even went skiing, for both it was the first time. They felt like robots with the ski boots on!
If you had the chance, would they come back to Tuvalu of would they stay in Europe? Why?
Both of them would go back to Tuvalu. They would like to visit Europe again but Tuvalu is their home and that’s important in their country and culture. The families of both the boys live there and the girlfriend of Alopua also lives in Tuvalu. Both of them have an important role now as they’re promoting football on the islands.
Check Alopua and Vaisua’s progress and their amazing adventure in this mini TV series, from the Tuvalu National Football Association’s official YouTube channel! http://www.youtube.com/user/footballtuvalu
The most remote football manager in the most remote island of the world. This is Leon Glass, the man who has the charge of organizing all the football played on Tristan da Cunha, a group of islands dispersed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean which count about 260 inhabitants. AsianOceanianfootball caught up with him to discuss the influence of the most popular sport in the most unknown place on Earth.
Give us a general introduction of football on Tristan da Cunha.
Football on Tristan is a very popular sport, but due to the small population of the island it is hard to form an 11-a-side team, so we usually play 5-a-side and we have two competing teams.
How football managed to arrive on the islands?
I don’t remember the exact dates but it was introduced by missionaries to the island and I think military personnel on visiting ships.
What about Tristan da Cunha national team, has it played any matches?
At the moment we don’t class ourselves as a national team, we don’t have the facilities or the funds to leave the island so all our matches are classified as friendlies.
According to some sources, Tristan da Cunha is a potential member of the CSANF, the South American Board of New Federations. Are you interested in taking part in this board and have you ever heard of it?
We were approached by CSANF a few years ago but we could not join because of the reasons in the above answers in question 1 and question 3.
What are your plans for the 2012/13 upcoming season in football?
We don’t make any official season plans as our matches vary but we try to train at least once a week to keep sharp.
How many matches do Tristan da Cunha’s selections manage to play every year against ship’s teams or other teams?
Again these matches vary from about 3 to 6 matches a year, although we would like to play much much more.
How many matches did you play in 2012 and which have been the results?
In 2012 we only played 1 match and that was our annual 5-a-side cup where our team is split down the middle with Tristan Government employees on one side and our Fish Processing Factory employees on the other. The Government team won the closely contested match 2-1.
Which is your exact position in Tristan da Cunha football?
My role at the moment is player manager, I organize the training sessions, order the team kits and take part in some of the matches.
What’s your next target?
We were recently invited to a 5-a-side tournament in Mallorca, but because of shipping schedules and lack of time to secure travel funding we could not attend, we would like very much to compete and do well in a tournament like this.
Is there a local championship played on the island?
Yes, the local championship is called the Table Bay Marine Cup and it’s the one I’ve mentioned before.
Do you think it will be possible to see one day Tristan da Cunha playing against other ‘neighboring’ islands, like Saint Helena? It’s rumoured that TDC lost 9-0 a game versus Saint Helena, but there’s no source confirming that, is it true?
We would like to play against the neighboring islands if it one day becomes possible, we have never played any of them before, so the rumour that we lost 9-0 to St Helena is just a rumour.
Which is Tristan da Cunha’s biggest success in football so far?
It is hard to say which is our biggest success so far as we have played so few matches, but the game we are most proud of is a few years ago when a South African construction team was visiting Tristan for several months, after playing two close matches that ended at 4-4 they challenged us to one final game before they left and dared us to put our recently won Trophy on the line. The result was Tristan Da Cunha – Apple Construction 14-2.
Tristan da Cunha’s teams played against Norwegian and American ships around 1940s. Do you have any info about those matches?
Yes through some of the history books Tristan teams did play these ships but I don’t have any info about them besides that they were played.
Do you have any chance of watching some football on tv?
We Follow the English Premier League on TV also the Champions League and all of the international competitions.
Do you have a favourite football team?
The majority of my team like me supports Man Utd but a few in the team also like Arsenal and Liverpool.
by Christian Rizzitelli
For those who follow Asian football the name of Aleksandar Duric has all but to sound familiar. The Singapore international veteran, who has over than 19 seasons of football on his shoulders, is actually the most prolific goalscorer of the world and one of the most feared strikers in the whole Southeast Asian region.
When did you start playing football and how did you manage to play in Singapore?
I started playing in the street with my friends like every kid in Yugoslavia, when I was 7. We played football everywhere, in the street, at school, all the time! Football is life for the country where I come from. My dad was a football player too but never played professional, only at amateur level. I was playing in West Adelaide in 1998 when I got a call from a Singapore team [Tanjong Pagar United] to come and play here, so I first went to the country in 1999.
What helped you most in becoming a professional footballer?
I became a professional player because of my love for this sport. I had a very difficult life when I was young as there was the war in my country, that I left with no money or future. But despite that nodoby really ever helped me with any contract with clubs, I work hard and train all the time and I think I’m a true professional footballer.
Which advice can you give all young boys in Singapore who dream of playing football?
They have only to work hard and never give up. Obviously they must love football because the passion is necessary, then they have to keep believing in themselves.
Are you generally satisfied of your career?
Not really, I’m sad that I didn’t have a shot to play in Europe. I think I could have had more success and more recognition for my achievements if I had played in Europe, but I am still happy for what I have achieved here and where I am now in my career.
What are your thoughts about football in Singapore? And about the S.League?
When I first came to Singapore I was very happy to play in the S.League, there were many talented players and the stardard of football was very high.
Unfortunately over the years this level has started going down because of the lack of support from sponsors, fans, and the football federation. The S.League is a very well organized competition but at the moment there are no enough money and support from government, we lost a lot of fans too recently.
Where should Singapore’s football improve most?
We should try to promote the game more to our youth here, it’s not so easy these days to make good footballers in Singapore as kids are not very keen on sports right now. We need to change it as they’re our future, they must dream of playing professional football.
Do you think there are some players in your country ready to play in Europe?
We have some really promising youngsters but the problem is that all boys must go to the army for two years and losing this amount of training is a huge trouble. But I hope to see one day some Singapore players trying they luck in Europe because I believe we have same good young talents, for example Hariss Harun.
Which is your best highlight with the national team?
My best highlight was when I started playing for Singapore national team in 2007, when I was 37 years old. I scored two goals in my first game, which was against Tajikistan. But of course one of my best moments was beating Malaysia at the World Cup qualifiers.
After hanging up your boots, what would you like to do?
I’d like to stay in football maybe as a coach or technical director. I want to try to find other players like me in Singapore in the next few years, it would be nice if I could coach kids to improve their football skills, they’re our future.
20-year-old centre-back Rohit Chand is by far Nepal‘s most promising talent in many years. He made headlines in his country when teams such as Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Rangers showed interest in him after his sensational performance in the 1-1 draw against Jordan with the national team on the road to the 2014 World Cup.
1) When did you start playing football and how have you become a professional footballer so quickly in Nepal?
I started playing football at the age of 12. I used to play football in my home town Surkhet (a small town in Nepal). At the age of 13 I was selected in ANFA ACADEMY, the only football academy for youth players in the country. My tour in Iran with the U-16 national team in 2008 was the turning point of my career. At the age of 16 I was called up to the senior national team even though I hadn’t played any games both at club and U-19 team’s level. Getting a chance to serve my country helped me to start my professional football career quickly in Nepal.
2) Which are the biggest differences between playing in India and in Nepal?
I think the Nepal football league is still like at amateur level while the I-League is more like a semi-professional league. The I-League is far more better than the Nepalese one in both financial aspects and infrastructures.
3) Are you satisfied with your improvements as a footballer since playing in the I-League?
Of course I am well satisfied. I got good pitches, experienced coaches and more facilities to improve my football skills then in Nepal. Definitely I grabbed more improvements while playing in the I-league.
4) Do you think there are other Nepalese players who could play in the I-League?
Yes, I think there are some players in Nepal who have the deserving quality to play in the I-League. For example Sandip Rai, Bharat Khawas, Kiran Chemzong and Biraj Maharjan could all play in India’s top flight.
5) What can you reveal us about Lille, Rangers, Kettering Town, Tottenham and Arsenal’s interests in you?
If I got a chance for trials I would be very happy! Past is past…eheh.
6) Where would you like to play abroad?
My target is to play in Europe top fight’s clubs.
7) Why was Nepal’s AFC Challenge Cup campaign so disappointing?
Yeah it was quite disappointing for me and my country as well, probably because we had lack of friendly matches and because we didn’t have enough time to prepare well for the competition.
8) What are your best memories about former national team coach Graham Roberts?
Coach Graham Roberts is a fantastic person. He’s the best coach I’ve ever trained under. I will always remember his motivating speeches and his determination towards team’s work. Not only me but all the Nepalese people love him.
9) What has been your highlight of the season so far?
I think the hattrick against Pune Fc was the highlight of the season so far in the I-league for me.
10) What are your impressions about the current state of football in Nepal?
I think Nepalese football needs a grassroots level’s development. Nepal football is still lacking professionalism in coaches, players, marketing and technologies. It is in a developing phase.
11) What’s your aim of the season and of the career?
If possible I would like to play European football because my ultimate target is to play in Europe.
12) Who has been the best player you’ve played with until now? And the best you’ve played against?
Nepal international right-back Biraj Maharjan is the best player I have played with, and Maldives’ Ali Ashfaq is the best I have played against.
By Christian Rizzitelli