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Football: YFH Phuket, Jakarta’s Onana set up Singa Cup showdown

YFH Phuket celebrate their opening goal in the 3-1 win over tournament newcomers Chennai City FC in the Singa Cup U18 semi-finals. Photos: SportAsia.

YFH Phuket celebrate their opener in the 3-1 win over Chennai City in the Singa Cup U18 semi-finals. Photos: SportAsia.

November 6, 2014: Former finalists YFH Phuket will take on Indonesian newcomers Onana Elite Football School in Friday’s U18 final of the Singa Cup, Singapore’s largest international youth tournament.

 

YFH Phuket on the attack.

Arsenal, anyone? YFH Phuket on the attack.

Playing in Arsenal colours complete with Emirates branding, the boys from the Youth Football Home (YFH) in Phuket scored twice in the second half to win 3-1 against Indian debutants Chennai City FC, a charitable academy for players from humble backgrounds.

 

Coach Hannu Tuukkanen was delighted with his charges – which include Thailand U16 player Jassada ‘Arm’ Hongsawong and Nithiwat Boonsing, who both trained with German club Schalke 04 last month – and welcomed the chance to avenge their loss to Onana in the group stage.

 

“This was our goal, to reach the final, and now we have the opportunity to play against the team that beat us in the group stage. If you go so far, of course you want to win,” said Tuukkanen, who is also the Sports Manager at the Youth Football Home, an orphanage with 60 children from the ages of 10-18.

 

The teams were level at half-time after Phuket opened the scoring before Chennai equalised from the penalty spot. Phuket’s task looked harder midway the second half when they were reduced to 10 men after their right-back was sent off for a second yellow card, but they quickly responded by taking the lead with a header from a free-kick and then rounded off the scoring in the final attack of the 50-minute match.

 

“I’m happy we did well after losing a man. Actually, when we lost one player, it was easier for us to ‘put the toys on the ground’ and we started to play a little bit better football. That’s not usual, but this time it helped as the roles were more clear,” Tuukkanen said.

 

YFH, or Youth Football Home, is an orphanage based in Phuket that has produced several Thailand age-grade players.

YFH, or Youth Football Home, is an orphanage based in Phuket that has produced several Thailand age-grade players.

“Honestly, we haven’t reached our level yet and I still think it’s because of the astroturf pitch, because we only play on it when we come here. For some reason, the team is scared to play normal football and we’re missing a lot of easy balls.”

 

Onana triumph in all-Indonesia semi-final

Onana earlier beat Group A winners Football Plus 3-0 in a frenetic, all-Indonesia clash that kicked off at 8.00am and featured a spectacular long-range strike reminiscent of David Beckham’s iconic goal from the halfway line.

 

Onana celebrate their 3-1 win over Indonesian rivals Football Plus.

Onana celebrate their 3-1 semi-final win over Indonesian rivals Football Plus.

After a scoreless first half, forward Yovan put Onana ahead from close range after the goalkeeper parried a shot following a corner.

 

Bara spectacularly doubled the lead when the attacking left-back spotted the goalkeeper well off his line and fired a long-range missile into the net from inside the centre circle. Yovan rounded off the scoring late on when he burst through the defence and calmly slotted home from the edge of the area for his second goal of the match.

 

Bara scored a spectacular long-range goal.

Bara scored a spectacular long-range goal.

Onana, based in Jakarta Timur, are competing in the Singa Cup for the first time, with former Cameroonian pro Jang Sunday in charge.

 

“I’m very happy for their performance because when we came here, nobody knew us,” said Jang Sunday, who has spent over a decade playing for multiple clubs in Indonesia.

 

As the team celebrated following the final whistle and again after the post-match handshakes, a shy Bara was drawn to comment on his spectacular long-range strike.

 

“This was the best goal I’ve scored in my life,” he said. “I don’t know how far it was from. I think I was around the halfway line.”

 

The fourth edition of the 11-a-side Singa Cup features 53 boys’ and girls’ teams from seven countries – Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – competing on three full-size pitches at The Cage Sports Ground in Turf City.

 

Starting with 12 teams in 2011, the event now features boys competing in U-18 (10 teams), U16 (8 teams), U14 (20 teams) and U12 (10 teams) categories, while the girls’ event comprises five U18 teams.

 

Striker Yovan (#11) celebrates his opening goal with Onana teammates.

Striker Yovan (#11) celebrates his opening goal with Onana teammates.

For results and more information, visit: www.singacup.com

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