Sunday, September 6, 2009

Singapore now placed among the Middle-Tiers

Singapore had failed in it bid to reach the Asian Zone World Cup Qualifier Final Group but quite frankly, I am very delighted with how this World Cup Qualifiers campaign had progressed.

By now, after viewing the entire qualifiers starting from the first round from last November, it is clear Singapore has reached the Middle tier now in the Asian arena whereas up to before the qualifiers started, one cannot be so sure if it was indeed the case.

Although expectations are at times on the high side (But still considered good as this show Singaporean are following the event) like when we defeated Lebanon playing some of the best attacking football and yet some can point at a 2-0 victory against an Arab team, along with the fact we defeat them 2-1 the second time in Beirut, as not enough.

We do need to remind ourselves that Singapore only claimed their second ever competitive win against an Arab team, Palestine, just back in 2003, a mere five years ago, and now a double victory against Lebanon, a team that had pushed South Korea all the way in the last World Cup Qualifiers, can be deemed as more than satisfied.

Also the Arab ‘weakest’ teams are almost considered equal if not above ASEAN best for the Thai themselves have problem getting past them after all these years struck in the middle-tier as the Thai failed to notch a single victory against them in the current World Cup Qualifiers.

Now though come the hard test as it was ‘easy’ (compare to the tests to come) getting into the Asian Middle-tier group for many have long considered the Thais to have reach that level yet up to now, they are still considered a lower Middle-tier team; which Singapore should find ourselves bracket in at the moment.

It can be now ‘near-to-impossible’ to move up the ladder for the likes of China and Lebanon etc have long reached the Middle-tier group before the republic yet they are either struck like China or in the case of Lebanon; slide down the ladder as neither can get close to the top of the middle-tier to be grouped with the like of Uzbekistan, North Korea and Bahrain.

This showed the difficulties ahead for Singapore cannot just maintain the standard set in these World Cup Qualifiers but improved on it.

Both China and Lebanon cannot be deemed to have dropped their level but more a case of just maintaining their level which is not good enough as others like Qatar and Oman had kept on improving.

So before the Lions think of smelling the Asian Big 5 – Japan, Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Australia – who are always favourite to capture all the World Cup spots and the Asian Cup trophy, we have to think of those in front of us with many old-timers like Thailand and China etc.

Luckily for Singapore, I will not be given this ‘near-to-impossible’ and ‘no-win’ task with the burden falling on Raddy, FAS and the S-league to deal with it

They will no doubt have the aid of the revamp, thus stronger, ACL and AFC Cup to assist them for the past four years involvement in the AFC Cup alone has helped the national team and the domestic scene much as S-league Big Three are regulars in the Asian arena with trips to West Asia yearly helping closed the gap.

All the best to them for the ‘difficult’ time ahead as they now faced an expectation of an Asian Cup 2011 spot and 2014 Asian Final group; as least judging from the raising hopes.

View of the Asian placing:
Asian Big 5

  • Japan, South Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Australia

Middle Tier

  • (Top group)
    Uzbekistan, North Korea, Bahrain
  • (Middle group)
    China, Syria, Iraq, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Jordan
  • (Lower group)
    Singapore, Thailand, Lebanon, Kuwait, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan

Lower Tier

  • (Top group)
    Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Maldives, India, Kyrgyzstan, Hong Kong, Palestine, Yemen
  • (Middle group)
    Myanmar, Laos, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan
  • (Lower group)
    Philippines, Cambodia, Timor Leste, Brunei, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Chinese Taipei, Macau, Mongolia, Guam

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