Xmas Cheer For Lai
There would be more joy than the usual for Chicken Wings academy graduate Lai Yong Ah this festive season, as he got picked up by Polish Division Seven club Ukryte Smoki. Founded just over a month ago, their Danish head coach Arthur Sonne has already hit gold by trading two goalkeepers - Stefan Marković and Ahmed Skejić - for a profit of over a million apiece, in that short time frame.
Lai is hoping that the same golden touch brushes off on him, and if grizzled chief scout Tham Beng Li is to be believed, he will have as good a chance as any. "He's the best natural sweeper I have seen in the Wings for a long, long time." Tham - not one given to exaggeration - insisted. "He tackles neatly, recovers in no time at all, and has a good sense of where to distribute the ball afterwards. It's the whole package."
It has to be said that Lai will have his work cut out for him, however, with Sonne also scooping up four other youngsters - Germans Steffen Münzberg and Edward Berges, Abeiku Botwe of Ghana, and Alessandro Sordini from Switzerland, that last for the biggest fee of some S$238,000. Lai, in contrast, went on a free, but he felt that signified little.
"We all have two feet and a head here." the confident scrapper said. "As far as I am concerned, we're on level terms."