Friday, September 10, 2010

Anti-football, under physical play guise, is a worry

All the focus now is on how to revamp S-league after the Jalan Besar clash between Young Lions and Beijing Gouan (S), yet I will not be talking about any revamp as want to focus on a topic that arose after the Woodlands Wellington and Etoile FC match at the start of last month.

At that point, the championship race was boiling up and with YOG coming up so it was best left to end of the season but with a five days break due to Hari Raya and suspended matches, there is no better time.

The header should have been Patrick Vallee was right about certain teams but knowing some, it will be too much.

But it does not take away the fact; Patrick Vallee is RIGHT and Shahsi Kumar reaction about the French wearing skits is looking at it from the wrong point.

It is not just physical play that is the problem but the fact the teams - under those who advocate it is physical play - do not even play football at all most of the time.

Woodlands Wellington claimed they are now on the next stage of Singapore development and looking to develop players for the nation thus they are focusing more on youth.

The question then become how any good players can develop if the football is constantly played in the sky with players constantly asked to hack opposition down to stop play.

It may seem harsh but the French players from Etoile will certainly not develop into what they are today if they came from the Rams development.

And, it is not just confined to Woodlands Wellington for if one divided the S-league into two, I can say (and I say it before) only the S-league Big 3 can be consider the teams that play football.

It is reflected in this year ACL and AFC Cup challenge for if we are talking about S-league Big 3, we deserved to be in ACL group stage but if we looked at the rest, we have a hard time justifying if we deserved to be even in the AFC Cup.

Geylang United campaign in the AFC Cup was terrible and it reflects the strength and abilities of the rest of the league and that there is much to do.

Throughout the entire AFC Cup campaign, the Eagles refused to come out of their defensive hole even when they needed the results.

After half their campaign was gone, they were in third and needed a win to secure second slot but against Thai Port, they still played their regular game plan and the Thais was the ones that pushed for the win as they know with it, they are virtually through to the knockout stage and the outcome reflected that with the Eagles unable to do anything once they fall behind.

The problem is not just about ACL and AFC Cup slot as it has greater implication with it concerning Lions Asian campaign as well.

Raddy said the last ACQ failure was our inabilities to win matches at home and he was right but if the players are develop in an environment that ‘reward’ anti-football then how are we doing to find players who can win matches for us.

And, it may have started due to Raddy success earlier as the only way was by playing defensive football.

Before we proceed, I want to say all National teams started this way as they needed the results first to convince the general public of the target with Japan as an example.

In WC 98, Japan was derided for the most uninspiring football of the tournament even as they got the result they wanted which was not to be thrashed at any cost.

Now, 12 years later, under the same coach, Japan had continued to play defensive football but this time many admitted there are more flair to the team and the result were beyond expectations.

This is where Singapore football has to be now and have a balance between flair and defensive abilities as defensive football can only take us so far.

Japan was helped not by a stronger league, before talks about the difference in strength of both leagues, but rather a commitment by J-league to play football even among the weaker teams.

This is no doubt due to the influence on their league which is not from result at all cost BPL but football inspired Spanish Liga and South American league.

This is a real problem as Shahsi Kumar and, likely, many head coaches do not see any problem as long they do not get thrashing so they justified their type of football.

That is why Raddy have been ‘accused’ of not looking at players from ‘smaller’ teams but the problem is the Lions have to add flair to their defensive play and honestly speaking, I asked the question again - do anybody expect flair players to have a chance to develop in such an environment?

The example of ex-Eagles Miroslav Latiak is worth a look as the Slovakian midfielder was consider one of the flair player in the Eagles squad when he started out three years ago yet by early this year, the flair have been taken out of him and I see him doing what his teammates do and he has become an all-‘brawn’ player.

We certainly need a balance of brawn players as well as flair players developed from our clubs - not for the Lions sake only - for it is in the interest of the clubs themselves as they cannot hope to attract me to watch too many of the matches - outside the Big 3 and Etoile FC – let alone the neutrals as it is too terrible.

After all, fans come to see the flair players Khariul Amri, John Wilkinson and Shahril Ishak etc perform; not hacking players, nine-man defensive bus formation or football in the sky.

Anti-football have taken over the S-league and it is worrying for the best players come from Spain and South America who advocate flair; not Britain who advocate physical (or in truth anti-football)

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