There was definitely a peak and pit at the end of match day as our National Football Academy (NFA) Under-15 boys lost an embarrassing 7-0 to SC Corinthians while their seniors, NFA Under-16, failed to beat English giants, Arsenal. However, it was not all disappointing, as highly anticipated player Irfan Fandi went to bag the first goal for the nation.

The Lion City Cup has been around for 25 years and is a highly anticipated regional youth tournament, which has groomed local soccer legends like Fandi Ahmad, Indra Sahdan and current vice-team captain for the national team, Hariss Harun.

As Canon took on as title sponsor for the tournament in 2011, Canon Lion City Cup explored more opportunities to bring in top clubs from all over the world to participate in this initiative. Till date, the tournament has seen the likes of popular clubs like Juventus, Everton, Manchester City and AFC Ajax. The most talked about team invite this year is none other than English team, Arsenal.

“This year’s competition is very stiff, but I have the confidence that our boys from the Under-15 and Under-16 teams are eager to show that they have what it takes to give our guest teams a run for their money,” said Mr Zainudin Nordin, President, Football Association of Singapore during the Official Draw Ceremony held at PARKROYAL Hotel.

The tournament is a great platform for our promising young sportsmen to showcase their talents and gain greater exposure by playing with teams from around the world. This also serves as an opportunity for our elite youth team to be scouted by other renowned coaches from international teams.


NFA U-15 V SC Corinthians

As our National Football Academy (NFA) Under-15 team conceded 7 goals to SC Corinthians, tension and a sense of disappointment filled Jalan Besar Stadium when the final whistle blew to signal the end of the opening match for Canon Lion City Cup 2013 on 9 June 2013.

Ex-national player and now coach for NFA Under-15, Nazri Nasir was dejected at the performance of his team however he offered a positive outlook of the match. He said, “We have to learn from our mistakes, and prove a point to the fans and family members who come down to support us.”

“I’m very proud of my boys, I think they have fought and given their all,” he added encouragingly.

The Brazilians were at the top of their game, as the boys showed polished skills and determination. They adapted quickly to the local humid weather and took the challenge in their stride.

Their controlled passes in the first half of the match helped them maintain possession of the ball throughout, and eventually led to 2 goals from the SC Corinthians’ team captain, Leonardo Rodrigues Lima, in the first half.

In the second half, both teams came back even more aggressive. However, it wasn’t in the home team’s favour when Zulqarnaen Suzliman missed the cross made by Rusyaidi Salime, as he kicked the ball straight above the crossbar.

As if it wasn’t disappointing enough to have missed a sublime opportunity, Lima went on to score again for the Brazilian team, amounting to the first hat trick of the competition.

Invigorated, the visiting team came on stronger as they intimidated the Singaporeans, who lost possessions far too frequently. Defender Wesley Duarte scored a goal at the 63rd minute and just a minute after, midfielder Matheus da Silva put the ball in for SC Corinthian’s fifth goal for the night.

At the 73rd minute, Lima broke his hat trick with a splendid finish, exploiting the careless clearance of NFA U-15’s midfielder, Justin Hui. The Brazilians went on to bag in their final goal by Rafael Bilu.

The top scorer for the opening match, Leonardo Rodrigues Lima, expressed his excitement after the win. He said, “Being the top scorer in the tournament would be a bonus. I want Corinthians to be champions.”


NFA U-16 V Arsenal

 “I feel honoured to play in the number 17 shirt” – Irfan Fandi, son of local football legend, Fandi Ahmad.


After the disappointing loss of their year-old successor, the NFA Under-16 boys were under even more pressure to bag at least 1 goal for Singapore in their match against the hot favourite team, Arsenal.

It was a slim win for Arsenal but NFA Under-16 coach, Robin Chitrakar felt that it was a deserving one point. “We fought really hard and we didn’t want to go home empty handed,” the 37-year-old coach said.

Just 15 minutes into the game, and the young gunners had already taken the lead. A cross by Christopher Willock led the royal blood of Brunei’s Faiq Bolkiah to finish it off with an easy goal at close proximity to the post.

In the 29th minute, Irfan Fandi almost had an opportunity to put the ball in after a clever assist from his fellow forward, Amiruldin Asraf. The shot, however, was too predictable for Arsenal’s goalkeeper, Harry Girling.

The goalie saved the ball almost effortlessly. There were subsequent attempts by both sides. However, each wasn’t successful due to offside-s and shots off target.

The first half stood at 1-0, in favour of the English giants.

The second half saw both teams looking to attack more aggressively. The dynamics between both Singaporean forwards, Asraf and Fandi, was promising though they just couldn’t seem penetrate the Arsenal defence and on the rare occasion that they did, Girling wasn’t letting the shots in.

The tables were finally turned at the 61st minute, when Fandi brought glory to the nation with an equaliser for the NFA U-16. The crowd immediately rejoiced seeing Fandi Ahmad’s first-born bag the first goal for Singapore in the Canon Lion City Cup.

The excitement for the home side was unfortunately premature, as it only took 5 minutes before Arsenal captain, Harry Donovan exploited a careless slip of the ball by goalie Zharfan Rohaizad.

Despite the lead in goals, Arsenal continued to play on the attacking side as proactively as the NFA U-16 boys. Again, the forward duo managed a good range. However, at the 72nd minute, Girling fiercely deflected the shot.

The match ended with a score line of 2-1 but the game was far from over. In the penalty shootout, Arsenal triumphed over Singapore with a score of 3-2 after the NFA U-16’s midfielder Karthik Raj missed a shot.