JPF TALK – Featuring Isa Halim
Despite hectic M-League fixture, Lions XII’s hard-battling midfielder, Isa Halim, sat down with Junpiter Futbol, talked about his futbol with Lions XII, SIngapore National Team, his goal against Iraq in the World Cup Qualifying Round,
Despite hectic M-League fixture, Lions XII’s hard-battling midfielder, Isa Halim, sat down with Junpiter Futbol, talked about his futbol with Lions XII, SIngapore National Team, his goal against Iraq in the World Cup Qualifying Round, his meeting with Lionel Messi and many, many more… Junpiter Futbol shares with you EXCLUSIVELY!
JPF: You used to play for Home Utd but why you decided to join Lions XII?
IS: Since young, I have heard so much from friends and my family about Malaysia Cup. Everyone was talking about the past glory and recognized players like Fandi and Sundram. So when the opportunity of playing M-League futbol came, I decided to take up the challenge as I wanted to be appreciated and recognized just like how we all appreciated and recognized Fandi and Sundram. I wanna live in that era – playing in M-League.
JPF: How is M-League play different from S-League?
IS: Standard of both M-League and S-League is about the same. The only difference could be the competitiveness cause every team in Malaysia wants to beat us (Singapore team). However, I personally feel that S-League’s teams are more tactically disciplined as compared to M-League’s.
JPF: Who is your best buddy in the current Lions XII team?
IS: Everybody in Lions XII is my buddy! (JPF: Mentioned someone in your team?) Well, at least for now, Sufian (Anuar) is my roommate, we spoke the most and he’s those sort of very “kang-jiong” person. He is just like a clock off the pitch, always reminding me it’s time for training, time for meal and etc!
photo from lionxii.sg
JPF: What do you think of Lions XII’s chances of finishing in the top 3 in this year MSL?
IS: Of cause we fancy our chance, never say never. Initially, we are underdogs and now every team starts to take notice of us (currently Lions XII is in the number-1 spot in M-League). Mid-table teams are not far behind so we are taking one game at a time.
JPF: Talk about the atmosphere in the dressing room before a MSL game?
IS: Before a big game, you could see the younger players feeling tense. Senior players like Bai (Baihakki), Shaiful (Esah) and even me, myself, would tell them to relax. We told them it’s something they do (play futbol) everyday just like taking a shower! So just enjoy e game! It’s actually quite a relax atmosphere in the dressing room and probably one of the best atmosphere I ever had where the senior and young players mix and gel together and respect each other (JPF: Joker?) Haha.. yes, there bound to be some jokers around in dressing room. (JPF: Who are they?) Khairul (Amri) and Bai (Baihakki)!
JPF: Why Singapore is not getting the result at the International level?
IS: There are a lot of factors to be honest. We are in this rebuilding process where we are building young players round the more senior ones in the current squad. As a former young player myself, I know this is not an easy process. You could see that our current squad did well against Malaysia in the World Cup Asian Qualifying round but we are equally disappointed that we only scored 2 goals in the entire 3rd round of the World Cup Asian Qualifying campaign. I understand the fans’ concern but I do hope that they can be patient with us. Now we are all working hard for the Suzuki Cup at the end of this year. We hope to do well and regain all the die-hard fans’ confidence in us.
JPF: You scored the only consolation goal against Iran in the 1-7 defeat in the World Cup Asia Qualifying, what was going through in your mind after you have scored?
IS: Seriously, when I scored to make the score 1-3 then, I really believed we could fight back. However, the Iraqis responded immediately with their 4th goal minutes later, that really demoralized us.
JPF: Which is your most memorable goal?
IS: In fact, the goal against Iraq was my first ever goal for the senior team. Prior to the game, the guys were still joking that I might score against Iraq as I scored quite a handful of goals during the training. (JPF: Any planned goal-celebration?) And well, I told them if I score, I would take off my top and waved it to the small bunch of Singapore’s fans but obviously the actual situation didn’t allow me to do so. If I am going to do that after scoring, something is definitely not right in my head!
photo from forum.soccermanager.com
JPF: Who do you think will win the S-League Championship this year?
IS: I might not be playing in the S-League now but my heart is still very much with Home Utd. I would like to see them winning the championship and progress in the AFC Cup. The only challenge with the team is the depth of the team. The reserve players have to be able to raise to the occasion when they are called upon.
JPF: Some is asking for Relegation system to be introduced into S-League. Many ask for Beep Test to be abolished. What’s your opinion on these?
IS: I really don’t think Relegation system would work for us at this point. S-League clubs do not even have their own stadiums as SSC (Singapore Sports Council) is in-charge of all stadiums. Furthermore, we need more sponsors to make this system works. Beep Test wise, it might not be the best fitness test. We are losing lots of great players because of this Beep Test. Probably we could explore using more futbol specific tests such as Gacon Test or Yo-Yo Intermittent Test where players run at different speeds, for example, run, jog, run again. Whereas the Beep Test is a continuous run, the pace increases as the runner progresses thru the levels.
JPF: As a former S-League player, selected to be Singapore NT representative, please share with us what are the attributes a player needs to have to be able to play in the S-League and Singapore NT?
IS: Character. The never-say-die attitude and determination. When the chips are down, you do not go down with it. You fight on. You might be a gifted futbol player but character is the attribute which you will need to have in order to push yourself up to the highest level.
JPF: On top of the usual futbol training, do you do any training yourself?
IS: I engage in weight training in the gym with my personal instructor 2 times a week, depending on my futbol training schedule. At home, I would do normal push-ups and sit-ups the moment I wake up and before I sleep. (JPF: Any special diet?) I don’t really follow a special diet but I would try to cut down on oily stuff such as fast food. Sometimes I would have to give up on my mum’s cooking at times, haha.
JPF: In Feb 2008, you launched Adidas F50 TUNit in Barcelona, together with renowned players like Lionel Messi, Arjen Robben and David Villa, how were they in real person?
IS: It was a great experience rubbing shoulders with some of the greatest current futbol big names. In real life, they were just like normal ordinary and friendly people. In fact, Messi’s parents saw me sitting alone from far, approached me and asked where I am from. I told her Singapore and surprisingly she knew! They said Singapore was a nice and hot country!
JPF: Who do you look up to in your futbol career?
IS: Fandi Ahmad. He has achieved a lot in his futbol career, he carries himself well and is really a great role model for everyone of us. Cristiano Ronaldo is my current favorite. Seeing how he has developed as a player from Sporting to Real Madrid, his physic, his pace, his amazing footwork, he’s someone whom I really admired too. And previously when I was playing a striker, I really loved Brazil’s Ronaldo! I really loved him then!
JPF: Any words of encouragement for Junpiter Futbol followers who want to be a professional futbol player like you?
IS: I was once dropped from my combined school team during my school days, that period of time, I was on the verge of stopping futbol totally. One of my youth team coaches, Hatta Ali, told me if I were to give up futbol that easily, I would never be successful in life too. I recovered from the incident and continue to play and train hard. And, this is where I am today. So train hard, don’t give up and enjoy the game.