Cambodia U-23 0
Singapore U-23 6
Scorer :Khairul Nizam 35', Gabriel Quak 41', Fadhil Noh 57', 67' and 73', Fairoz Hasan 87'
That was why it was refreshing, when towards the end of his regin, a loudmouth Englishman came to S'pore defence, when FAS was missing, with Steve Darby willing to hit back at SPH when their then-writer Jeffery Low wrote an article claiming the S-league game between Home United and Balestier Khalsa was fixed (without any proof).Any other sport organisation would have leap to defend it product if it had been attacked, especially corruption, without any proof for we know the damage it could bring, like Steve Darby did, but then-general-secretary John Koh did nothing and Mah was to blame as he did not step out to lead.
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
So before the Lions think of smelling the Asian Big 5 –
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
Twenty-one months after successfully defending the ASEAN Championship, the Lions will once again be tasked with defending their ASEAN crown when the newly-renamed Suzuki Cup kicked off in Indonesia and Thailand this coming December.
The draw was kind to
Not that the Lions needed the luck for since the end of the last ASEAN championship, the team has progress tremendously for one to view the ASEAN crown as the minimum target.
It is not arrogance to set the ASEAN crown as the minimum target but a reflection of the height the Lions is reaching that even a Final appearance should be viewed as disappointment.
Unlike the last two ASEAN championship crown the Lions won, National coach Raddy is marching into the 2008 edition with not only a stable team but also having transform his team to his preferred tactics and formation of 4-5-1.
For both 04/05 and 07 edition, Singapore was playing 4-4-2 and the midfield spine of Goh and Jailani for the 04/05 edition only formed at the last moment going into the crucial junction.
Unfortunately both were already 29 and could not be considered the future with both also lacking the technical abilities needed to play constructive football.
Thus in the Asian Cup Qualifiers in 2006, the midfield was reconstructed once again just 12 months after it was formed and with time running short, a Shi and Fahrudin partnership was clobber together on short notice.
Therefore, the spirit and teamwork between the midfield and the other departments, as well as between both teammates, were in the building stage entering the 2007 edition but now 20 months later, both have worked the partnership brilliantly.
However it is not just the mentioned two that is the only reason behind the Lions recent transformation over the last year and a half but rather, it being the team effort as Isa Halim, Wilkinson, Shahril Ishak and Noh Rahman all step up to be counted as well as the abilities and willingness of Farzul, Amri and Indra to be the support attack that gave Raddy the confidence to implement the change from 4-4-2 to 4-5-1.
The 4-5-1 is a flexible formation that allowed the attack to be at it most destructive as it free the team best attackers to concentrate on attacking when having the ball as anchorman are always behind defending the backline and it even give defenders and fullback the freedom to join in the attack if required.
Yet at the other end, the formation also ensure teams are not easy to break down as the team leave only one true forward upfront when defending and with nine players at the back and in midfield it compress the space given to opposition, making it difficult to pass the ball through the backline.
In the World Cup Qualifiers, the effect of the new formation make it case right from the start with a 4-0 demolition of Palestine in Amman, Jordan where 19 months earlier, the Lions fell to the same opposition one-nil down with a poor display.
Indeed Singapore have played some of the best attacking football seem in recent time during the WCQ 2010 and yet kept out their foes from scoring.
If one take out Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia as both are a class apart from any of the ASEAN teams Singapore will face in this championship, one will see Singapore have hit 11 goals in 5 games against teams like Lebanon, Tajikistan and Palestine; all of whom can match up to any of the ASEAN teams in Singapore group or Group B.
It is an average of 2.2 goals scored per game and in international football any average above 2 is amazing.
Also the goals are spread out between the midfielders and attack unlike past when the attack is the one shouldering the goals.
In addition, we are also not conceding goals at the back with 3 clean sheet out of 5 Qualifiers and only 2 goals conceded meaning an average of only 0.4 which is equally amazing.
With such evidences from the last year and half backing the Lions for this ASEAN campaign, a Final finish of previous campaign cannot be judged as enough any longer and only the ASEAN crown will do this time round
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
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.
At the beginning, the Republic Under-23 football team were not among those selected to go to the Doha Games before an appeal saw the about turn from Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) to select the team.
So that means the end of the issue then.
If one is just thinking about the 2006 Asian Games, then yes, but to be honest, it does not take a genius to foretell that the same situation will pop out again for the 2010 Asian Games and beyond.
That is where the problem lie for Singapore for while our Under-23 team is never assured of the Asian Games, the Asian Games is part of Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea development plan where the Asian powerhouse send their Under-21 team to gain the needed exposure and experience to enhance their potential.
The Asian powerhouses know by only sending their Under-21 team to the Asian Games, they have given up their right to Asian Games crown but it matter not to them for football development for their youngsters is the main point.
The difference then is clear to note for SNOC does not concern itself with football development and it is not wrong as that is not SNOC area of scope.
It is FAS job and it is time FAS start to analyze whether it is possible to request SNOC to exempt the sport from their decision making by agreeing not only to pay the their own expenses but also restructuring the aim and buildup of the SEA Games to prove football development is the main point at these Games.
By that, the author means sending Under-21 teams to the biennial SEA Games for football development thus preparing for the build-up to an Under-23 team for the Asian Games. The Under-21 team will then also have an aim to progress unlike now for since it formation it has been drifting aimlessly seems by it non-action.
However in this way, the SEA Games crown is a goner but if football development is indeed part of FAS aim in sending the Singapore Under-23 team to the 2006 Asian Games as reported in their appeal to SNOC, it is time to back their words with proof.
Future Asian Games must no longer be held hostage to the relevant of results when the aim should be like