Did the referee over-extend the extra minutes until home side ATM FA could squeeze in an equaliser against our LionsXII in the Malaysia Cup semi-final match and then go on to knock us out on penalty kicks last night?
I’ll leave it to you to judge, and, in the meantime, I’ll give you some injury time until you make a decision.
Look, our team was playing on their turf under their conditions, with their officials, and pelted by their zeal.
We were the guests in their tournament, often unliked, always un-cheered and singularly unencumbered in every opponent’s unbridled obsession to stick it to us and beat us.
In the Malaysia Cup, it’s as though we’re Real Madrid playing Barcelona, historical eternal competitors, in every match.
But here’s the deal. That is actually a very, very good thing.
You know the saying – “What doesn’t kill us can only make us stronger”?
Well, our boys are toughened and steeled every time they step into a cauldron which heats up to boiling point as soon as they pop in.
Just ask John Terry, dubbed the “Most hated man in English football”.
He absolutely loves giving 1,001 per cent effort under 1,000 per cent of sheer adversity.
And let’s face this head-on too – the S-League, bless its manufactured good intentions, is as boiling hot as an ice cube in the Antarctic.
So, being in the Malaysia Cup for the first time after all these years of waywardness and wanton floundering is, yes, a good thing.
Considering how wayward and backward Singapore football has become.
Oh, you must know the decline.
Buried under the Malaysia Cup fever is this thing called the Singapore national football team, aka the Lions.
We’re so miserable right now we give actual lions a bad name.
You know, I still have many friends who actually don’t know that the Lions are different from the LionsXII who are themselves different from the Young Lions (our Under-23 team).
There are only two pandas here, but for a place that’s so small, how come we have so many lions?
As any self-respecting food-court cleaner would tell you, we need to sort out the trays a lot.
Firstly, don’t fret. We’ll try again next year to nail that Malaysia Cup.
Secondly, let’s not kid ourselves and let’s start building up from the heart instead of the wallet.
For a country that was touted to be aiming to play in the 2010 World Cup finals, our Lions – that’s the senior team, the one that can play England if we amuse them – not only skipped that WC safari in South Africa, they’ll be missing the beach party in Brazil in 2014 too.
Guess losing every qualifying match, including a 7 – 1 thrashing by Iraq in the last one, didn’t help, huh?
Our grossly inflated World Cup dream was due to officials surveying the landscape after we won two Asean Football Championship titles in a row (2004 and 2007) – that’s the Tiger Cup before it became the Suzuki Cup – and started imagining us as the undisputed kings of Southeast Asian football.
They thought: “Hey, all we need to do is to beat some Asian sides like Japan, China, South Korea, Jordan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, whatever, and we’ll be at the World Cup.”
We’re now, according to the Fifa rankings, the 162nd football power in the world, just ahead of Samoa, Nepal, Afghanistan, Fiji and islands you go to for a mai tai on the beach.
Here’s the deal – our state of football has come a full circle.
We’re back to square one – derided as an outright regression to a minor kampong-level Malaysia Cup hoohah to skeptics, and, conversely, hailed as a timely progression to a new-old order of things to hopeless romantics like me.
So, like Katie Holmes scrubbed clean after Tom Cruise, I say we should seize this opportunity to completely overhaul.
In which case, our new national coach after Raddy Avramovic has got to be a Singaporean.
Two names – you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know this – immediately spring to mind.
Fandi Ahmad can surely be bought out of his coaching contract with the Johor FA.
Or V Sundramoorthy should be upgraded from his current Malaysia Cup job to the Big Chair.
They’re both local, both favourite sons, both youthful enough to remind us of their amazing talents as star players, and most importantly, both stirrers of the one thing this sport of the masses need more than anything else – a passion which everybody recognises, remembers and identifies with.
To those who keep saying we need foreign expertise with the relevant experience, hey, we’ve been there, done that, bought that, saw that, and look where that got us.
But where passion sprouts, excitement follows, enthusiasm awakens and the crowds return.
It can happen and it will happen.
Take a look at our unheralded football team in the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) back in 2010.
People started noticing because word spread that a plucky bunch of Singaporeans was playing their guts out.
Suddenly the YOG team became our little Singapore team.
You see, we’re not so smug now about our chances, not so dismissive about our rivals, and not so grandiose about goals we can’t score.
But that passion which brings it all back to the good old days when we all cheered together?
That’s the first step in our return to the game … and the teams, both Lions and Lions XII, we love.