Sunday, September 6, 2009

Point of View – Looked back at Tiger Cup

The feeling was great with Singapore lifting the Tiger Cup in front of a packed capacity crowd to bring down the curtain on Kallang Stadium. It also meant the Republic is still the only side alongside Thailand to have lifted the TigerCup and it is a great honour for a country with only 4 million

But now, it is time to clear the mind and reflect on longer term issues and not just be struck in this time frame.

First, there is the need for Raddy and his coaching staffs to start thinking of rebuilding and you need not be too shock for while the press had been hammering on the issues of how our squad average age is around 24, we do have several personals in key role in defence and midfield in the starting eleven that are on the wrong side of the age bracket or is on the way to that bracket.

Of course, at this moment of time they are heroes for having won the Tiger Cup against the odds and they should be allowed their moment in the limelight but believing in Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson philosophy that the next campaign is always the next step away, we simply do not have the time to let our emotions rule, for those players could soon be taking the unavoidable steps of a downwards spiral.

Certainly, Raddy and his coaching staffs would have the opportunity to look at that issue when they guide Young Lions in the upcoming S-league campaign

Also, at this moment of glory, we should also not forget to applause the S-league clubs – Those still in the S-league and those currently outside of it – and the National Football Academy (NFA) for they too had a part to play in the Tiger Cup triumph as well. It was their youth systems and youth coaches that discovered quite a number of the crop of players and then played in the S-league that nurtured them.

Once Raddy start the process of rebuilding, FAS can also start to think of the best route for qualifying for Asian Cup 2007 since they already make qualifying for the next Asian Cup Final one of their main target for the long term

Then what about SEA Games 2005 and Tiger Cup 2006?

Yes, they are important but the two regional international competitions cannot compared as the next Asian Cup Qualifying Round would be extremely challenging with only 12 slots to the Asian Cup Finals up for grab.

While the qualifying system and draw is not known yet, it does not take a genius to take a guess what it would be like, seeing how Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have organised their last 2 qualifying competitions (Asian Cup 2004 qualifying and ongoing WC 2006 qualifying), it should have a preliminary round first and then the qualifying group stage where from a group of 4, the top 2 qualified for the Asian Cup Finals.

If indeed that was the case then it will be no surprise the group will have one Asian superpower and the top spot will no doubt go to them. It would then be the second spot Singapore will have to target and the main contenders would likely include minimum one Middle-East team to maximum of two Middle-East teams.

It would be difficult then and that is why early preparation would help, especially with possible friendlies against Middle-East countries, and such preparation can also strengthen Singapore for the defence of the Tiger Cup in 2006.

Certainly helping the Republic would be S-league clubs continued participation and progress in AFC Cup as spoken about already in the previous article and amidst all the attentions on the Tiger Cup, the AFC Cup draw was make and I am not asking for the sky but for the 2 representatives – Stags and Protectors – to progress from their respective group into the knockout round where they could be meeting Middle-East opponents.

While their group opponents should not be underestimated, it certainly does not include Asian Super Clubs from Japan, South Korea and China and top spot in their respective group is achievable for Double Champion Tampines Rovers and S-league powerhouse Home United.

It would also be extremely important for the promotion of the S-league to ACL in future, as once the 2 S-league clubs showed they could achieved the same or even better results than the 2004 AFC Cup run by Eagles and Protectors, then it can proved that run was not a swan in the summer and the S-league could well be indeed among the top league in the ASEAN region if not the Asian region yet.

With that, let looked at the S-league and some of its old news that have happened since the close of the season.

One of the most significant piece of news would be the denied of entry of Cameroon club Planet FC into the S-league for 2005 and it is a wise decision with all the negatives news about the Cameroon club.

One can only image the noises that the media and fans would make if Planet FC had make the same entry as Sinchi back in 2003, when the Chinese club went down 1-2 to Sengkang Marines at Hougang from a Daniel Hill headed goal in their debut match.

It would be the worst start the S-league needed for 2005 and one the S-league can now avoid.

Next would be the exclusion of Tanjong Pagar United and one can only feel sympathy for the fans but not for the Jaguars management that was in control, before Mathew Kang management no doubt, as they had the chance to stop the rot.

The fact that the management team can run to the press and cry out that the trouble started all the way back in 1998 and believed there was nothing that could be done is puzzling to me.

Why was 5 years under their charge not enough to stop the bleeding of the club from escalating?

They knew where the problems lie.

With the club having too many star players that they cannot afford, why did they not just make the painful decision to stop the bleeding then with the released of all their big name players instead of half measure which saw some leave but others retained as the club would still be bleeding. No though, it would have saw the club fall from their glory years immediately but is that not the end product with Jaguars just taking a longer time to fall from grace.

They just needed to follow Geylang United example back in 1996, when despite the Eagles just winning the S-league crown, they were brave enough to do away with all their star players to stop their own bleeding and it saw the Eagles went downhill immediately the next season with a fifth place finish, their worst ever season until last season, but the fact the Eagles problem was earlier than Jaguars and they are still around showed it was all worth it.

Maybe the club was waiting for a white knight to rescue them like how the Rams saw a white knight in SembCorp Gas and Power entering the picture just when the Northern club looked to be in bad shape but this is like striking lottery and should Jaguars in future return to the S-league, one hoped their new management would be more professional in their approach to such problems.

After that, let talk about the end of totalfootball website. We should first applause what the TF team have done in the last 2 years since it was set up before going on.

After that a crystal ball would be needed to guess the future without TF reporting on S-league news but let give it a try based on the difference between Malaysian paper The Star reporting on it own domestic Super league and in Singapore its equivalent The New Paper reporting on S-league.

In that case alone, the Malaysian paper would win hand down for they have almost daily updated on the Malaysian Super League and at times even the lower Division, the Premier League, during the season and during the off season it is filled with information about transfers and update on the clubs squads while The New Paper cannot claim that.

Worse is that with the upcoming S-league season due to start the latest by March, we would not know about any transfers or update on S-league club squads, if not for TF, for The New Paper do not even bother to print an update about such things but the other papers - Straits Times and Today - cannot be dissolved of the same blames for while they do have some reports at times, they are almost doing the same things as The New Paper and is nothing like The Star in reporting of the domestic game.

The most if not equal blame should be reserved for the S-league official website for if even the official website cannot update readers on transfers and update on S-league club squads, why should others.

No though, it would be tough and near to impossible for the S-league official website to have daily update on S-league news but at least once a week would not be asking much for they have the responsibility of packaging the S-league brand name.

After all, recently FAS had a revamp of their own website and it certainly looked much better than the old site so they seriously need to consider a revamp of the S-league website as well for at the moment much of their news on that site ( are already past their sell-by-date.

Adding to that, if FAS do not have the resources for two websites then one would rather have one good combined site that keep up-to-date news on transfers and clubs than two websites that see one doing the reporting while the other does no reporting at all.

The clubs also need to play a part with up-to-date reporting on whom they have signed or what they have been doing since the end of the season as it seems few clubs bother to do that. The worst though would be site like Woodlands Wellington whose last news is back on the last day of season 2004 and since then, despite them strengthening with so many new signings, none is reported.

Also furthermore in this age it is no longer just about the quality of football but the talk on transfer or transfer rumors that can excites the public as well for you can find at times that transfer news or rumors overtaking the talk on football as the most exiting part. The public no longer expect the talk on football to stop once the season is over and transfer news and rumors played a big part in that.

This is something that FAS and S-league need to seriously think about that for once TF stop their reporting, fans would have no other source and a golden chance to catch the public imagination with the Tiger Cup win would be lost.

Therefore from all that, it is not difficult to think of a future that fans, in Malaysia or overseas, if they ever wanted to keep in touch with Malaysian news on football will find it possible with and while for Singapore side, in Singapore or overseas, we will have to pray hard that we can find it.

With that, come the end and by the same time next year one hope that there would be less of an issue about our media reporting as well as other issues raise.

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