Everything I am relating is from the info gleaned via the radio broadcast.
South Melbourne fell at the first hurdle of their second Singapore Cup campaign, going down 3-0 to the S-League's Albirex Niigata.
Albirex seemed to control the tempo of the game, and were the better organised throughout the contest, as well as making fewer mistakes. Their superior fitness certainly came across as well.
Albirex took the lead in about the 24th minute, after South had apparently matched it with the White Swans up until that point. Thereafter Albirex seemed to dominate, and it was thanks to Zaim Zeneli in goal that the score didn't blow out earlier than it did.
Despite this, South still had its moments, in the early parts of the game and after withstanding a lengthy bout of pressure in the second half, where Stephen Weir and Jesse Krncevic in particular had chances to score - the latter hitting the post from a corner which would have made the score 1-1.
Eventually, needing to push numbers forward, South was left exposed, and conceded two late goals. It was perhaps no more than Albirex deserved however, and not being able to hurt the home side on the scoreboard meant that increasingly South would be on the backfoot.
For South, Daniel Vasilevski seemed to be controlling the early parts of the game, but then faded out; Jesse Krncevic had his share of chances but couldn't capitalise; Sebastian Petrovich continued his poor run of form; Junior de Carmago also seemed to struggle; Zaim Zeneli seemed to spare our blushes on quite a few occasions; Carl Recchia seemed to be involved in much of the play, though his effectiveness was unclear; while most of the other players seemed to not feature too much either negatively or positively.
After managing to impress last season in both the first round and quarter finals, this was a bad loss, and one that sadly felt inevitable. Partly this was due to our poor domestic form; partly due to being so ill-prepared squad wise; and partly due to running into a better opponent this time around.
Having not won a domestic title since 2006, one wonders if the entire concept of a Singapore trip will be looked at in a lesser light next year. Sure, there was and is a buzz in getting away from our own dead end league and playing in another dead end comp overseas, but if it's come at the expense of local trophies, people will rightly ask if it's worth it. No doubt something to ponder for all concerned.
The promise of a radio broadcast was fulfilled, however there were several issues with that service. It seemed that several people using the live streamed service had that cut out and were unable to regain it. More problematic for those who were able to maintain access was the difficulty in assigning commentary duties.
The press release made the claim that the commentary would be in English, with periodic Greek updates; what actually happened was that the commentary seemed to change every ten to fifteen minutes between an English language commentator (George Triantos), and a Greek language commentator (3XY's Kosta Paterakis).
This came across as just plain confusing to people who could understand both, such as myself, and utterly disorienting to those of our fans who don't understand Greek. Somehow I felt we would have solved these issues by now, but I now realise I've been kidding myself. It was better in the second half, as Triantos did more of the calling duties, but still, Pateraki performed extended bouts of commentary duties.
All in all, a disappointing night, capping off a disappointing week. A huge match coming up against the Oakleigh Cannons at 'home' on Sunday. Despite everything that has happened so far this season, we are somehow still not far behind the VPL leaders. If anything positive is to come out of this disappointing week, it'll be that we have no more distractions and nothing else to aim for but a VPL title.