Thursday, December 17, 2009

Time to replicate 2009 SEA Games

With Singapore youngest ever football side achieving an impressive feat of bronze in the SEA Games, it is now time to look beyond that and I am not talking about the next SEA Games but beyond that as well (Unless one believed the Mayan calendar and the world is ending in 2012 so no need to think)

The truth is in Asia, there are hardly any competitive tournament like the European U21 championship qualifiers etc to develop the lads in the crucial years in the U18-U23 age bracket.

That was why national coach Raddy wanted the SEA Games to become an U21 competition two years ago so the younger players have something to look forward to but it is a near-impossible task considering how FIFA, despite it powers, is also having problems changing the Olympic from U23 to U21.

The glory that awaits a number of FAs, who have a tough time in the senior level, is just too tempting and who can blame them.

Left with no choice then and the SEA Games as the only meaningful age-group competition for the U18-U23 age bracket for us - we cannot wait forever for Asian U21 championship qualifiers to develop - we need to replicate 2009 for future SEA Games as well.

By that, I mean a majority of this team can go on until 2014 SEA Games but it does not mean it has to be the case and instead, I believed the lifespan of most of this SEA Games team be ended by the 2011.


It is for Singapore own good as a new generation will need competitive competition by then and we can only fit in 22 players and out of that, less than 18 players will get any meaningful time on the pitch.

So the only way to expose more players to competitive matches at the U23 level will be to replicate 2009 and send younger team than any of our rivals thus restricting our players to a maximum of two SEA Games no matter how talented they are.

Afterall, we are not playing at the U23 level but at times even at the international level for we saw at this and past SEA Games, a number of teams are a near-replicate of their national team like the bronze medal match where the host team, Laos U23, has 13 of their players from the National Team.

It will then be a good expose for our U23 players; who need the experience of playing international games and we cannot get enough of them at the U23 level for the Olympic Games qualifiers is the only alternative but it happen only every 4 years and it is too long a wait.

It may not get us the gold on the platform at the SEA Games but if we do not do it for for an ASEAN age-group competition then where else.

For it could be worth gold for Singapore Lions future and we have to make a tough and right decision for the development of our players.

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