Sunday, September 6, 2009

Get the ASEAN stars

If anybody had been following the transfers’ activities since the end of the S-league season, it is not unbelievable to make the call that this year transfer season has come to a close even before the New Year.

The Big 3 (SAFFC, Home United and Tampines Rovers) and the 2 pretenders (Geylang United and Woodlands Wellington) have more or less finished their shopping ahead of schedule with the best local lads already contracted to them and their foreign quota filled.

No doubt, there are still 4 other local clubs (Balestier Khalsa, Gombak United, Sengkang Punggol and Young Lions) who have much works to do before next season but honestly their weaker financial state or age restriction mean choices are limited.

One is certainly glad the Big 3 and the 2 pretenders have plan early for the upcoming season but having looked through the squads there is disappointment in the lacked of names.

By that, one is not asking for the impossible in seeking the best European or South American stars to grace this stage but taking a leave out of the J-league, S-league must target a realistic market from which to sought our own foreign stars.

J-league clubs have been targeting Brazil league domestic stars to grace their arena. The rise of 2004 Brazilian league top scorer Stecanela Cerqueira Washington is an example as with FC Tokyo in 2005 he scored 22 goals to make himself a top J-league star thus attracting the interest of Urawa Reds who purchased him and he has already repaid the club with 25 goals and a championship crown. Gamba Osaka Fernandinho is another as since joining the club he has played a key role in the club engine role contributing 23 goals.

The way ahead though is not easy with the East and West Asian leagues dominating the market which S-league could looked to, like the South American market, although one cannot ruled the possibility gems can still be found like a brilliant Brazilian now playing with the Singapore Cup champions.

But to be honest, a number of Brazilians have played in the S-league and the number that show similar class can be narrow to 2 (Egmar and Peres) showing the difficulties as we are scrapping the bottom end of the barrel.

Is it not best then for the S-league to look at ASEAN stars with their wage demand more likely to be met by S-league clubs.

Thai U23 star Teerathep Winothai will soon be off to the V-league where he is earning around US$8000 (S$12000) a month and this wage demand can be meet by the top S-league clubs.

The S$72000 wage cap is a problem as no club will want to spend a huge portion on a single player thus weakening the rest of the team and that where S-league step in as the league can share up to half the star player wages provided it does not exceed S$5000.

To ensure the overheads do not become a burden, S-league can limit the ASEAN star player category to 2 (half the 4 foreigner slots) per squad as well as the requirement that the ASEAN player have at least 20 caps to ensure quality.

With that support from the S-league, players in the class of Bambang can see action in the S-league (Remembering how close Home United were in 2004) and only then, the talk by FAS in transforming S-league into a top 10 Asian league be realized as a top league need quality players.

In addition to the ASEAN stars, the top foreign players from other ASEAN leagues like Perak Keita Mandjou or Perlis Phillemon Chepita can be extended the same treatment as they have the statistics to back their case.

The road to being the top league in ASEAN or even a top 10 Asian league is never easy and it can never be realized without splashing the cash and it is time for S-league to back that ambition with actions.

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