Close to 7,500 football fans gathered for The Castlewood Group Liverpool Masters this evening to catch their idols from Liverpool FC and Singapore battle it out at Jalan Besar Stadium.
The weather, which possibly provided some familiarity for the visitors from Northwest of England, did no part to dampen the mood of both players and spectators at Tyrwhitt Road.
Maintaining a steady pace for 70 minutes, Rezal Hassan made the first save of the match but it was not too long before Heskey wiped out his efforts to put the ball in the back of the net. Unfortunately for the Singapore Ex-Internationals, a bit of confusion in the box led to an own goal by Lim Tong Hai, and saw the first half ending at 2-0 to Liverpool.
The second half of the match saw more nail-biting moments in both penalty boxes, but the men between the posts maintained steely composure, making saves that ignited applause from the spectators. The visitors however, managed to extend their lead with a goal from Jari Litmanen, while Rafi Ali also did the home team proud and put one past Istanbul 2005 hero Jerzy Dudek. The evening ended with a 3-1 scoreline to the Liverpool legends.
Impressed by the echoes of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” reverberating in the stands as the teams warmed up, player-manager Ian Rush said, “It’s a big crowd tonight, the atmosphere has been fantastic, and the fans sang out loud throughout the game. It’s such great support and that’s what makes me and the lads want to play. We want to give you special thanks for all your support.”
Goal-scorer Emile Heskey also shared his delight at returning to Singapore and playing with Aleksandar Duric for the first time. “It was really nice, it’s the second time I played in Singapore and it has been great, especially the support by fans! Duric in particular played really well! Is he really 44?! He made other 44s look really old! He’s was brilliant on the pitch today. I’ve never seen him play before today and I think he’s done excellent. His movement, especially at that age, and he has only just retired. He’s really outstanding.”
The Castlewood Group Liverpool Masters Cup marked the first time both teams played against each other in a full field, 11-a-side match. The game also acted as Aleksandar Duric’s testimonial match, who was visibly emotional at the blow of the final whistle.
Aleksandar, who was fittingly named Man of the Match, shared, “I really want to thank the whole of Singapore for letting me play in this country. There’s no better team to play than Liverpool, especially with my own idol Ian Rush. It’s been a wonderful experience. I really enjoyed every moment playing tonight, in front of my family, my friends, and a full stadium of fans here at Jalan Besar, and would like to thank Castlewood Group for allowing this to be a testimonial match..”
Chris Comer, Chief Executive Officer and Property Developer, Castlewood Group, said, “Castlewood Group is proud to be the title-sponsor of this year’s Masters and the game couldn’t have been more exciting. Seeing my home team Liverpool play against my island home Singapore at Singapore’s capital of football Jalan Besar Stadium has been a dream come true. The Legends have thoroughly enjoyed being welcomed by Singapore through all of the public events this past week and looking forward to seeing what next year brings!”
Steve Black, Chief Executive Officer of Masters Football Asia, shared his delight, “The passion and support we’ve received here have been amazing. We’ve had such a wonderful week with the players and fans, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s event. We’ll continue working with our partners and sponsors to bring the best of football to Singapore.”
Image Credits: Masters Football Asia