Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Help! Common Sense Breaking Out Shock

KUALA LUMPUR - Future Singapore teams in Malaysian domestic competitions should be more developmental in nature.

Otherwise, Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) General Secretary Azzuddin Ahmad said that the governing body and state football associations gave the LionsXII - who played in this year's Malaysian Super League (MSL), FA Cup and Malaysia Cup as the first Singaporean team in Malaysian football since 1994 - the thumbs up.

However, speaking to TODAY, Azzuddin stressed that the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) must stick to the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed last year.

"There are no hard and fast rules imposed on the LionsXII team on their age limit. But the FAS should bear in mind that the MoU also states that development (under-23s) is important when sending a team to take part in each other's league," he said.

"We understand the FAS' predicament in dealing with their National Service issue and those in the team who are affected by it. And we will have to work out an ideal solution."

Under the MoU, the Harimau Muda, effectively Malaysia's national under-23 side, competed in this year's Great Eastern-Yeo's S-League while the LionsXII played in Malaysian competitions.

The LionsXII, runners-up in the MSL and semi-finalists in the Malaysia Cup, which Kelantan won after beating the Malaysian Armed Forces 3-2 in Saturday's final - contained senior national players including defender Baihakki Khaizan and captain Shahril Ishak (both 28) and midfielder Isa Halim, 26.

Nonetheless, the LionsXII's first season in Malaysian football was generally viewed positively at the FAM's recent council meeting. 

"Fan interest in the two competitions has grown while their away matches have drawn big crowds," said Azzuddin. 

"There seems to be more excitement in the terraces and also on the field when the LionsXII play, which is good for football here and inSingapore."

The FAM Chief also revealed that match-fixing had been a top concern with the re-entry of a Singaporean side to Malaysian football.

The only blot so far was the arrest of Malaysian referee Shokri Nor and two others by Singapore's Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau in May on suspicion of attempting to fix the result of the match between the LionsXII and Sarawak. All three were later charged in court. 

Said Azzuddin: "So far things have remained under control ... we will continue to stay vigilant."

COMMENT - if both teams really wanna compete then fine but without an AFC Cup spot on offer to a foreign club winning a domestic league better for all concerned if, and fairer, if both teams look at their set ups as part of a longer term project aimed at developing players for the future. 

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