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OUR SHE-TAHS CARRY THE WEIGHT OF SECOND RUNNER-UP: Hougang United vs Geylang International (ladies)

Submitted by: Confaderal | 21st October 2023

A bunch of colorful rubber bands

Caption: 📸 Stock photo of colorful rubber bands.

When I was younger, I thought being an unstoppable force was the way forward in life. Be the best, be the first, win arguments, get the perfect score, do things properly 100% of the time, don't make mistakes, slaughter the competition, etc.

Then as I grew older I found that no matter how hard I try, there will always be someone better than me. Sometimes my best, is just not good enough. Thus, I adopted the Immovable object mantra — in a scenario where I am out of my depth, I'd make sure I was hard to remove, stubborn. To keep 'staying in the fight' when the chips are down.

Later on, I discovered that there will always be someone miles ahead than me that could just blow over me. I couldn't be an immovable object. Thus I adopted a mantra that has served me well until today — be like a rubber band. I can be stretched, bent, beaten, abused, but I will never break. And whatever strength or power that is exerted on me will just be absorbed and released back to the oppressor.

In the same way, for our ladies, I feel that when we're up against the odds, and our opponents wield more power/skills against us, that's when we need to be the most flexible, tricky and creative. We can't win if we go toe-to-toe so we use our opponents strength and turn it into a weakness.

Tell our opponents: "You can attack us, but the more you do, the more weaker you become to our counters" instead of saying "I won't let you attack us".

October 30th 1974

On October 30th 1974, an aged boxer called Muhammad Ali, whom most say have waned in his ability to fight, entered the ring again after a hiatus. He accepted the challenge to go up against George Foreman after boxing fans doubted Ali's status as a legend of boxing. Foreman had previously knocked out everyone in his path, literally. The young chap, Foreman, was powerful and formidable. Foreman also had just won the heavyweight title in a second-round knockout to Joe Frazier, who was then the undefeated boxer.

Foreman has never been defeated. With a punch that could knock out any other pro-boxer, one would be crazy to enter the ring against Foreman at this time. But up stepped Muhammad Ali, the overwhelming underdog who was "past his prime".

Knowing that he couldn't beat Foreman toe-to-toe, Ali devised a game plan. He and his coaching staff loosened the ropes around the boxing ring on the day of battle. Ali also sought to let Foreman chased him around the ring and "allow" the latter to punch him while Ali blocked his blows.

Caption: 📸 Property of HBO. Levi Johansen's Youtube. Muhammad Ali & George Foreman

When battle commenced, Ali hopped around the ring, blocking and dodging Foreman's blows. Whenever Foreman got Ali cornered on the ropes, Ali would lean on the ropes. And because the tension of the ropes was loose, Ali could lean all the way back on the ropes to avoid Foreman's punches to his face. Leaning on the ropes also meant that he could still remain standing and wouldn't be knocked out.

The duo sparred and the rounds passed by with Foreman taking the offensive. By the third round Ali had already surpassed everyone who had been in the ring against Foreman. Ali hadn't been knocked-out yet. Foreman grew more impatient and doubled up his efforts trying to rain down more blows and chasing his opponent around the ring.

By the eighth round, Foreman was so exhausted that his punches were no longer effective. So much so that in the last round, when the two boxers "clinch" each other, Ali asked: "Is that the best you've got, George?".

Foreman was spent, tired, exhausted. Ali sensed the opportunity of the moment and that's when Ali finally opened up his body and released a flurry of punches that put Foreman lying on the ground. Ali had won. Against all odds, he did it!

Caption: 📸 Property of HBO. Levi Johansen's Youtube. The epic fight between Muhammad Ali & George Foreman

October 15th 2023

On October 15th 2023, our She-tahs took to the field against Albirex in what was a battle for the second spot in the Deloitte women's premier league. There's six games left in the season and this was one of the high-stakes match. Our ladies needed to win to cover the gap against Albirex in second position.

Alas, in the evening October sun, our ladies fell behind to the Albirex team. Matchweek 13 has concluded. The score was Albirex 3, Hougang 0.

I'd like to mention that the spirit of the ladies to keep fighting was great and the competition was not reflective of the scoreline. There was lots of hustling going on with the ladies.

What pains me is that the ladies didn't have a scoreline that showed the hard work they've put in.

And as the ladies shook hands at the end of the match, one has to wonder: "Are the Albirex team really stronger than us?". Maybe. "Do we deserve to lose?" I don't think so.

Be like a rubber band

Why do I think so? Because I think everyone of the hougang ladies are talented. To be in contention of the top spot for so long and with no foreigners in the squad? Hell yeah, these she-tahs are talented!

So what went wrong?

Apart from the atrocious refereeing for Albirex's second goal, a penalty, our She-tahs were really playing hard but fell to two other goals which could've been a different outcome if we keep our calm and perhaps communicated better. And we conceded two late goals once the bodies were tired.

It also proved that Albirex was more flexible and more creative than us. We hustled so much we didn't have time to attack.

For the first goal, Sierra Castle was smart enough to dribble within our penalty area knowing that if she got tackled, she could dive and earn the penalty. So she went forward unopposed without being tackled by Reneelyn until the former was in a crossing position. She crossed the ball to WWC winner, Kana Kitahara to control the ball and toe poke the ball into goal. 1-0.

Once Sierra was in that position, it was always going to favour her. What could be prevented though, was the pass before. It must've been intercepted before it reached Sierra.

For the third goal, we scrambled when there was a ball lofted over the top of our two defenders Angie and Jacklyn. Both of them sandwiched the onrushing attacker. In this scenario, it would've been enough if there was one defender to track the runner. The other could be better served tracking another runner.

Azura(the goalkeeper) rushing out and spilling the ball made matters worse when it landed on the feet of Albirex's Asada who deftly chipped the ball into goal. On another day we might get lucky if it didn't land on an opponent's feet, but as it turns out, we were unlucky. But then again, some teams really train on being in the right positions to pounce on "second-balls".

Of course, one might say that this is easier said in hindsight, but what this shows is the zealousness of the three players to rush to the ball created this moment of scramble that led to the goal. While the zealousness is really appreciated, it could've been a better outcome if the ladies involved approached the situation more calmly and with more communication. The zealousness could be better utilised if the players focused on their specific, different tasks, instead of all three overlapping on one task.

It breaks my heart to see three talented players go down to an avoidable goal like this.

The refereeing of the second goal

The referees in the Deloitte's WPL has always grind my gears and the ref in this one is no different. They are truly the origin story of a villain in the making. Sometimes one just feels they can wring the necks of these referees.

In the 80th minute, with the score at 1-0 and our she-tahs chasing the game, a lofted pass to an attacker in the penalty box bounced and created a 50-50 duel between our defender, Angie and the Albirex attacker, Noralinda.

While both were chasing the ball, Angie got to the ball first and hoofed the ball clear. Noralinda then "collided" with Angie and twirled around in a heap in the penalty box. What a crook! Freaking thespian!

The referee who had a clear view of the incident then signalled for a penalty, much to the protests of our she-tahs. I mean; "C'mon ref!". The man clearly was not fit to be a referee.

And *sarcastically clapping* well done to Albirex. Their game plan worked against us. They planned to populate the penalty area to earn these soft penalties. And with the help of incompetent refereeing, it worked. I remembered countless other WPL match officials who've made really clear mistakes.

It makes me wonder: As a working Singaporean, these mistakes really shouldn't happen. If it's a small oversight, yeah sure, humans make mistakes. But clear mistakes like these should be bread and butter. If I do the same mistakes in my industry, I'm pretty sure I'll get reprimanded and my job is put into question. Some standards are needed, especially for us Singaporeans.

Our upcoming game against Geylang

With five more games to go, our hougang felines could still reach second if Albirex or LCS slips up. Hougang United vs Geylang International ladies.

I hope we come back stronger and more flexible, wiser and trickier. Be a rubber band. Don't be too jumpy and we should be on our way for a grandstand finish. All the best ladies! Be ruthless against a Geylang in turmoil and rack up a good goal difference. Who knows we might need it at the end of the season! You've got this🙂 #1H1H

"Be a rubber band."

Hougang United vs Geylang Int'l Quick Report:

- Leo & Rochelle will still be unavailable due to injury

- Geylang has let in 12 goals in their previous game against Balestier Khalsa

- Nicole might not be starting

- Geylang's goalkeeper has leaked alot of goals from long range shots!

— Unless otherwise stated, our photos are from the Deloitte Women's Premier League facebook, from stocks or from the Hougang United women's instagram page. Tune in to post-match results in our "Upcoming" section of the website after the matchday to see the scores.

Which would you rather be?

  • 0%An unstoppable force

  • 0%An immovable object

  • 0%A rubber band

You can vote for more than one answer.

Give our Hougang ladies some words of encouragement!

  • 0%#1H1H one heart, one hougang!

  • 0%🎶 Hougang Utd! Win, lose or draw! We will always be w u! 🎵

  • 0%LFG! Pride of the Northeast! 🐆

  • 0%Y'all r talented... & there's no mountain high enough!

You can vote for more than one answer.

Who will be POTM?

  • 0%Raudhah

  • 0%Nicole

  • 0%Winnie

  • 0%Rachel


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