Sunday, September 6, 2009

Will FAS give S-league it due credit this time

As Singapore reign supreme over ASEAN for the third time in 10 years, one must not only be delighted but also impress with that impressive stats for over 15 attempts, starting from 1971 SEAP Games until 1998 had saw the Lions finished empty handed each time.

Along with that, Singapore have now joined a selected band of ASEAN nations – Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia – who successfully defended their crown. (Counting the SEA Games which was the unofficial ASEAN Championship until 2001)

However as one celebrate with the rest of the nation on this remarkable occasion, the author wishes to raise a question which is whether FAS will give the S-league it day in the limelight this time round unlike the 2005 victory when all FAS wanted was the whole of the Republic to know that the victory was the result their work alone only.

No, the author is not exaggerating it for back in 2005 all FAS wanted to talk about was their National Football Academy (NFA), which was started in 1999, as the starting point in the building of the 2005 team and how they make up 7 of the 22 member winner squad.

While not denying the importance of NFA as an important youth development for Singapore future.

Like most facts, a better and more accurate picture is seem when peeking into the fine details for it was only 2 NFA members, Shahril Ishak and Khairul Amri, who played a part in that Tiger Cup victory and instead Geylang United and (the currently excluded ex-S-league) Tanjong Pagar United may have played a bigger part in that victory.

The 2004/2005 competition MVP Lionel Lewis had a lot to thanks Geylang United for back in the 1997 the Eagles had not spotted his talent but make the important decision to hire a goalkeeper coach (a novel idea at that time which FAS have not even done) to further develop the goalkeeper skill at the club.

Certainly, the result of that decision was bared out by the fact all 3 keepers – Lionel Lewis, Hassan Sunny and Shahril Jantan – in the 2004/2005 competition had make their debut with the Bedok-based club.

If not for the event back in 1997, would Singapore have in their disposal now a custodian so good that he is well on his way to being one of Singapore great for let not forget Rezal Hassan when under FAS charge in the Malaysian League days.

Lionel Lewis was not the only Eagles savior that year for in attack there was Indra Sahdan, in midfield there was Hasrin Jailani and in defence there was Baihakki Khaizan (A joint effort of NFA and Geylang United). Other than that, Noh Rahman, who is always a reliable substitute ready to come off the bench, is afflicted to Geylang United.

After that, come Tanjong Pagar United for Singapore famed backline has 2 players – Daniel Bennett and S.Subramani – who are the product of the club youth development and S.Subramani had won the 1998 Player of the Year while playing for his debutant team.

Even the so called ‘small’ clubs despised so much by SPH media and the neutral fans played their part with Jurong giving us Goh Tat Chuan and Itmi Dickson and Sembawang Rangers giving us Noh Alam Shah.

This year, one from the production line of the small’ clubs, Noh Alam Shah, played a big part in Singapore retaining it ASEAN title and along the way it was 2-times Champions Tampines Rovers who had further aided his development.

Tampines Rovers did not just further aid Noh Alam Shah development, they also give Singapore Mustafic Fahrudin for back in 2001 the Eastern-based club spotted the potential talent of the midfielder and was so impressed they were willing to give him a 5-year contract to the then 20-year old.

The midfielder did not disappoint as on loan with Sengkang Marine (Now Sengkang Punggol) that year, the Hougang club saw their best ever finish of fourth in the Singapore Cup and then in 2004, he won the Young Player of the Year while playing for the Stags.

Yet for all that efforts by the S-league and all it member clubs, FAS totally forgotten about them in 2005 while celebrating that victory and the mainstream media aided FAS as they just willing lap up FAS talk that NFA was the reason for Singapore ASEAN win.

One would not blame the clubs if they have given up and left Singapore football but knowing those running these clubs are doing it because they love Singapore football, they will not do so.

Still FAS must not take them for granted as they did their part in the 3 ASEAN win.

So this time around, do not forget the S-league efforts FAS this time round for when Singapore failed it is the S-league that take the blame but when time to celebrate it is you FAS who lab up all the credits and that is bullshit.

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