Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Singapore's Annus Horriblus

Singapore boast two of the finest goalkeepers in South East Asia, namely Hassan Sunny and Izwan Mahbud not to mention the all round ability of Safuwan Bahruddin and the consistency of Hariss Harun. Not four years ago they were winning the AFF Suzuki Cup. This year they exited the biennial competition in Manila with 270 minutes of football producing just one goal for their small band of fans to cheer.

A reliance on parking the MRT in front of the goal in a bid to nullify the potent attacking threat of Thailand failed when the Thais scored with just moments left of the second half. And for all the experience and discipline at the back they allowed Indonesia to enter new territory by not only coming from behind but scoring a late winner.

The four time champions exited stage left with little but a whimper to return to Singapore and the wailing and whining of a fan base so quick to complain but slow to support. In their defence there has been little to cheer in domestic football for a while now. Japanese side Albirex Niigata swept all before them as they dominated the football calender leaviing Tampines Rovers with their expensively assembled squad to effectively throw in the towel halfway through the campaign by saying they had no money and would be paying much lower salaries next year.

While the SLeague and its associated competitions smoulder those charged with running the game continue to sit by and strum idly on whatever string instrument they can find, dreaming of more glamourous jobs within the AFC and promoting a competition they see as an elixir but everyone sees as the final nail in the coffin of Singapore football that has been running on empty for several years now.

Coach Sundram is a legend in local terms but without a prolific local striker he was forced to build walls that would have Donald Trump stroking his toupee in glee. The walls didn't work though. They were breached by the Thais and the Indonesians for whome pace and movement were at their heart of their offensive play. The Lions did threaten momentarily against Thailand and with a striker they could have caused an upset. But finding a local striker is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack and even a Klopp, Guardiola or a Wenger would have struggled with the meagre gene pool Singapore has to fall back on.

Elections are due soon for the FAS but unless someone can get rid of the current incumbents it is unlikely anything will change. Singapore has talked the talk for years now with their business school speak but they are failing to produce players who can actually do their business on the field and while a nation may be expectantly waiting for Fandi Ahmad's boys to save the nation the fact remains more needs to be done at a grass roots level to ensure a conveyor belt of talent.

Sundram, despite been given a measly 12 month contract by the FAS, deserves time to instill his ideas and values on the players but as a number of observers better placed than I have pointed out the SLeague is professional in name only. The structure is rotten and there seems to be no one with the vision to get a grip.

Singapore football hasn't got much further to reach rock bottom. Let's hope people sit up and realise this sooner rather than later or they may be nothing left worth saving.

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