Monday, April 25, 2011
Tanjong Pagar's Woes Highlight SLeague Divide
Tanjong Pagar are a club with a proud history. They were runners up in four of the first five years of the SLeague and the one year they missed out on second place they won the Singapore Cup.
The 1980s were their time though, before the advent of the SLeague. They won the National Football League twice, the old domestic competition at a time Singapore still competed in the Malaysia Cup, and won the President's Cup on four occasions.
The Jaguars were brought back into the SLeague on the eve of the current season and it has been a baptism straight from the fires of hell as the young team have struggled on the field. You know how bad things are when you get beaten by Hougang United 5-0.
Going into tonight's game Hougang, a rebranded Sengkang Punggol, had managed 12 goals in their opening 10 games. That they'd managed four of them against title challengers Tampines Rovers and etoile is surely worthy of comment. As is the fact they conceded nine in return!
Poor Tanjong Pagar United. Not only are they burdened with an unnecessary word at the end of their name, they have managed just goals all season. Alas, and alck, they have now conceded 31 in their 11 games.
The best thing these guys can do is keep going. They can only get better. They get worse first, though it is difficult to see how much worse you can get than a 5-0 home drubbing by Hougang United.
There is though a bigger question. Tanjong Pagar are a team built around young players basically drawn together at the last minute. What does it say about the state of youth football in Singapore that Tanjong Pagar and Young Lions, the 'official' young players team in the SLeague, have managed just one win and five goals between them in 20 games so far?
Last year there was a strong bid by Yishun Super Reds for SLeague membership. Would they have faired any better than Tanjong Pagar?
The SLeague has become three mini leagues in one. Four teams stand a chance of winning; Tampines, SAFFC, Home and Etoile. Three teams are the whipping boys; Young Lions, Woodlands Wellington and Tanjong Pagar. The rest, the five other teams that make up the dozen, do just that. Make up the numbers.
Tanjong's lack of impact perhaps highlights the reason why clubs in the National Football League, as well as the Football Association of Singapore, are so reluctant to introduce a promotion/relegation between the two leagues. And why the FAS are so keen on foreign teams to make up the numbers.
If there is any positive to come out of this whole sorry debacle it is that next season the players in both Tanjong Pagar and Young Lions, and Woodlands who focus heavily on youth, will have 12 months more experience under their belt and some would be ready for a step up a level, perhaps to Balestier Khalsa (themselves a one time whipping boy) or Geylang United.
Until then we can only expect more of the same.
NOTE - you wanna know something daft? Young Lions and Tanjong Pagar have scored five goals between them in their 20 games. I saw four of them goals!