Thursday, November 24, 2011


Singapore Lions Taking Shape. Slowly.

Next year sees a Singapore team competing in the Malaysia Super League, a throwback to the times when they competed in the prestigious Malaysia Cup fondly remembered by fans of that generation.

The Singapore Lions is a team being specially built to compete north of the causeway, the season starts in January, and is being slowly, almost painfully, put together piece by piece.

The latest link is Shahril Ishak who had a pretty torrid spell in Indonesia last season Persib and Medan Chiefs. He joins the likes of Khairul Amri (pictured left) who has had a pretty torrid career so far with injuries putting him on a par with Abou Diaby for time spent in treatment rooms.

While the idea of having a Singapore team playing in Malaysia is a meritous one, and one I have been calling for for some time, the Singapore FA are walking a tightrope. The best option I would have thought would have been to send the Young Lions. Malaysia after all are sending their Harimau Muda to return the favour.

By creating this new team Singapore effectively are taking, or trying to take, some of their best players out of their own league and playing them up north but does this mean they are belittling their own domestic competitions? Certainly they need to make sure they don't give that impression.

A Singapore team is going to Malaysia to compete against some very strong teams. It is incumbent on those behind the team to make sure they are not humiliated, too often, playing in hostile atmospheres. But at the same time SLeague fans need to see the best players as well in their own competition.

Let's be honest here. There are three teams in the SLeague who are all about young players. Young Lions, Woodlands Wellington and Tanjong Pagar (and they occupy three of the four bottom places in the table). That's more than enough experimentation for one league I would imagine. Sending Young Lions north would not dilute the domestic league, Harimau Muda would strengthen it and the Cubs would learn invaluable experience about pressure and inconvenience.

Also worth noting: Balestier Khalsa, the other team in the bottom 4, has been quite the farm for youth talent. Albirex is very young and is in the top 4 but doesn't really count, since their youth talent come from/go to Japan. (Except a few.)
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