Saturday, November 19, 2011


Now Singapore Blame Preparation (Or Lack)

JAKARTA - His Singapore under-23 side crashed out of the SEA Games football tournament on Thursday night, but Slobodan Pavkovic (picture) was game enough to meet the media over breakfast yesterday.

A year ago the Lions team were booted out in the group stages of the AFF Suzuki Cup and, along with coach Radojko Avramovic, faced a torrent of criticism back home.

Pavkovic's demeanour suggested he believed they would not get the same treatment. "We didn't qualify for the semis, so I can't say that this was a success. We did our best, but it wasn't enough, it's as simple as that," he said.

"I don't think I would've done anything differently. All my decisions were made because of the preparation that we had before we came here, if we had different preparation I would've done things differently."

Eyebrows were raised when Pavkovic, the technical director of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), was pulled from his Jalan Besar office and appointed head coach of the squad.

But Pavkovic said: "I have 25 years of coaching experience in five countries, including being the head coach of the (then) Yugoslavia under-19 team, and Kuwait. Because of my international experience, we thought I could help the team.

"But you can't just look at what happened here these two weeks, you have to look at what happened the entire season.

"Here, finishing was our biggest problem, and we only had one other issue: the game against Indonesia, but I can say that all of us did our best (given the conditions) at this moment."

Ten days before the team arrived here, the squad was still not finalised, and eventually, six players were forced to miss out on the tournament.

Out of the 20-man squad, seven had consistently missed training sessions.

National Service commitments affected many of the players.

Said Pavkovic: "Our preparations were not good enough for our target to qualify for the final."

The team also faced a constantly changing schedule, players suffered from a stomach bug and then were forced to play a rampant Indonesia team in the searing 2pm Jakarta heat less than 48 hours after their clash against Cambodia.

Under such a strain, the team displayed a unity and fighting spirit that impressed Pavkovic.

"We've seem improvements in the four elements - taking responsibility (on the pitch), having a winning mentality, fighting spirit and teamwork.

We've been working on this the entire season and everything seemed to connect here, especially in the last game against Thailand (Singapore won 2-0).

"It is this kind of centralised training that improves players the most ... we need to keep this team together and give them international exposure."

I think Slobodan Padkovic has brought the Young Lions to the next level in this SEA Games. He should replace Robin Chitrakkar in S-League team next season...
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