Friday, May 23, 2008

Glory Glory Man Utd!!!

What a match! I have to admit that the match between Manchester United and Chelsea in the Champions League Final - 2007/08 is the most exciting and entertaining match I have ever watched in my entire life. Towards the end of the match, it was filled with emotions and drama as United beat Chelsea on penalties.

The match was live on Astro at 2.45am but 1 hour before the match started, Restoran Kayu(more looked like ‘Stadium Kayu’ on that night) was already packed with football fans waiting anxiously for the match kick-off. From the colour of shirts and jerseys wore by the people there, I could say that 80% of them are supporting United.

The starting lineup was almost the same as I had predicted. It was only Park Ji-Sung who was not in the lineup and also surprisingly not in the substitute list as well considering that he was in great form and had been performing well lately. Hargreaves took over his role by playing at the right flank.

The atmosphere was great as sound of cheers could be heard whenever both team had their chances to score. United had the lead when Wes Brown provided a fine cross and found Ronaldo at the far post who headed the ball past Cech. But just before half time, Chelsea managed to pull level through Lampard, with a little bit of luck, received a deflected ball from a United defender inside the penalty box and finished it off coolly.

In the second half, Chelsea had more control in terms of ball possession but United stubborn defence was not opening up any chances for them. Their best effort came from Drogba whose shot hit the woodwork. Towards the end of second half, Ryan Giggs made his 759th appearance, breaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s record when he was substituted in for Scholes who was playing with a broken nose since the first half.

The match went into extra time with both teams refusing to give up. As players from both sides getting more tired, they were still showing the desperation to win. Both teams were seen trying very hard to break each other defence. Chelsea was denied again when the shot from Lampard hit the crossbar. As for United, their best chance came from Giggs whose shot was blocked and cleared by Terry. Drogba was then sent off for slapping Vidic as tempers flared on both sides.

In the end of extra time, they were still tied at 1-1 and the match had to be decided by penalty shootout. Every penalty that United scored, my friends and I would cheer and hoping that Chelsea would miss the next one. The situation had become more tensed when Ronaldo’s penalty was saved by Cech. The last penalty for Chelsea presented them the chance to lift the trophy for the first time in their club history and Terry, the club captain, stepped up to take it. Fortunately for United fans, he slipped and sent the shot wide. It went into sudden death and the moment after the heroic Van der Sar saved the penalty kick from Anelka, the feeling was indescribable. My friends(ChunHui, Alvin, William, Eugene) and I immediately screamed and shouted with joy.

Soon after the trophy presentation, we went back to our home. It was almost 6.00am and I was feeling a bit tired as the result of not getting sufficient sleep. I managed to take a short nap and then went to work. Throughout the day and right until now, I still have this joyful feeling when the thought of United's victory run across my mind. And I have never felt so good before. Glory glory Man Utd!!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Rick Yap!

Last Sunday, my fiancée and I had the honor to attend the special day of this lovely couple. PuiYee a.k.a. Mrs. Rick is our close friend as we studied in the same school last time(Form 6 with me) and is also currently my fiancée’s colleague. As for Rick, he is another football fan and we talk a lot on football whenever we meet up. It is just so unfortunate that he is an Arsenal fan but I know he will be there supporting Manchester United in beating Chelsea tonight to lift the Champions League trophy. As far as I know, he always been supporting teams which play open and attacking football. And as for Chelsea, they have been spoiling… (oops, it's running outta topic)

Ok, back to the topic. The wedding dinner is held at Sun Lee How Fook Restaurant, Ipoh. Although I am born in this city, this is actually the first time I get to dine here. The restaurant is famous as they prepare nice delicacies here. Other restaurants that share the fame among Ipoh people on having their wedding dinner are Overseas, Tong Hoi(Menglembu & Iph Gdn South), Kok Thai, Tai Thong and Mun Zhong(behind old Lido & Pasir Puteh).

The married couple is greeted with cheers and applause from their guests when the emcee announced their arrival into the hall. The bride looked so pretty and stunning in her gown and the groom is simply charming.

The dinner went on smoothly throughout the night. There were slides presentation, a great performance from a pianist and followed by the ‘yum seng’ session which for sure would never be missed in any Chinese wedding dinner. But on that night, the main highlight was on the couple where they entertained their guests by singing the old famous Chinese song – 月亮代表我的心 (the Moon represents my heart) by Teresa Teng.

At the end of the day, I would say the whole event is very well planned and organised. Here, my fiancée and I would like to congratulate the couple again and wish you guys to have an enjoyable honeymoon trip in Japan.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Champions League Final - Manchester United vs Chelsea

Date : 21/05/2008
Venue : Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow

After missing out watching the 1998/99 Champions League final live on TV, I have waited 10 years for Manchester United to feature again in another European Cup final. And finally in Moscow tomorrow night, they will be facing Chelsea, a cash-rich English club, who is planning to seek revenge after finishing as runners-up behind United in the league. A win for United will crown them the European champions for the 3rd time in the club’s history. And as a United fan, I will be screaming for the club I supported since I was 15 right from the match kick-off. Come on guys, I know you won't dissapoint us. Do make us proud! :)

These two teams actually met each other in the FA Cup final last season. Sadly, United’s dream of doing ‘The Double’ last season was shattered by Drogba’s goal in the extra time. A year on and both teams are still equally good. Chelsea has coped well with the departure of their ‘Special One’ manager in the early season. They also have pushed United all the way until the last game of the league before losing out the title. So, I can predict that this match will be very close and tight.

On current form, Christiano Ronaldo will be the player to watch as he is United top scorer this season with 41 goals. Watch out for Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez too as both are proven capable of perform and score in big games. With Scholes, every soccer fan who watches the semi-final tie between United and Barcelona will remember how he scores the 25-metre screamer goal. It could be repeat of similar (or at least a good) performance from him as this might be his first and last appearance in an European Cup final.

As for Chelsea, Michael Ballack will be the player to watch as he has been playing well lately. He has proven it by scoring 2 goals in their 2-1 victory over United at Stamford Bridge few weeks back. Also watch out for Drogba, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole as they are players which are capable of scoring and provide touches of genius which can spoil United's dream of 'The Double' again.

Here is what I think will be United starting lineup for tomorrow’s match:-

Goalkeeper - Van der Sar
Defenders - Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra
Midfielders - Ronaldo, Scholes, Carrick, Ji-Sung Park
Strikers - Rooney, Tevez

Substitute : Kuszczak, Hargreaves, O’Shea, Giggs, Anderson, Nani, Fletcher

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thomas Cup 2008 Semi Finals - China vs Malaysia

Date : 16/05/2008
Time : 2pm
Venue : Istora Senayan Stadium, Jakarta

In today’s semi-finals, it will be a tall order for Malaysia to upset the defending champion, China. China will have a strong line up in their men singles as 3 of their players - Lin Dan(LD), Bao ChunLai(BCL) and Chen Jin(CJ) - are ranked top 4 in the world. In their men doubles department, China will have Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng(CY-FHF) and Guo Zhengdong-Xie Zhongbo(GZD-XZB).

Malaysia’s 1st singles will be represented by Lee Chong Wei(LCW). The world no. 2 does not have a good record against LD. He has played 11 matches against him and only won 3. Twice his wins are from the Malaysia Open and the other one from Japan Open. Although LD has been a dominant singles player for the past few years, it does not mean that he is invincible. LCW just has to play back his own game and force LD to make errors.

In the 1st doubles, Malaysia can either field Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah(CTF-LWW) or Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong(KKK-TBH) to match CY-FHF. I would personally prefer CTF-LWW to play this tie as they have a good record against CY-FHF. In their previous 10 encounters, they have won 6. If such, KKK-TBH will be fielded as 2nd doubles against GZD-XZB. Based on their recent performance, KKK-TBH would not find much trouble in beating the Chinese 2nd pair. But whether are they going to play this match is much dependent on the first 3 matches. If China can seal the tie in the first 3 matches, it is game over.

In the other 2 singles event, Malaysia will have Wong Choon Hann(WCH), Mohd Hafiz Hashim and youngster Mohd Arif Abdul Latif to choose from. In the 2nd singles against BCL, Malaysia can either field WCH or Hafiz. At the age of 31, WCH will have enough experience to handle the pressure to deliver a point for Malaysia. But since returning from injury, he has not been showing consistency in open tournaments. Fitness and stamina would be a disadvantage to WCH if the match goes to rubber set. As for Hafiz, he is also been under-performing since winning the All-England title in 2003. However, at the previous Asian Championships, BCL is defeated by Hafiz in the third round. Apart from that, Hafiz also defeated BCL at the 2002 Thomas Cup Finals. I would prefer Hafiz to play against BCL as I think he will have a psychological advantage over him.

If it is tie at 2-2 and goes to a deciding match on 3rd singles, it should be very exciting. If Hafiz is playing against CJ, I would say both have the equal chance of winning. Playing at the deciding match, it is not just about the game. Being the defending champion, CJ will have to face the pressure and the expectations of his teammates, coaches and his fellow people. This situation is same goes to Hafiz. If Arif is to be fielded, it will be a very difficult task for him to beat CJ as he is still young and inexperience. If Arif were to lose this match, I do not wish to see him stumble in his badminton career like Kuan Beng Hong. I hope he will take this experience as a lesson and bounce back stronger. Anyway, who knows he might pull off an upset by clinching the winning point for Malaysia? Like football, the ball is round and anything can happen. And if this really happen, Malaysia will have a new HERO! :)

From my point of view, the 1st singles is the most important match. Like football, getting an early goal is important to boost your teammates confidence and winning spirit. This also applies to this tournament as it is a team event. Although the odds are against Malaysia but if LCW is able to deliver the first point, then I think Malaysia will stand the chance of beating China.