Local teams must look beyond ASEAN

Local teams must look beyond ASEAN

THE defeat against Indonesia last Thursday ("Coach Aide resigns as S'pore crash out"; last Friday) means that this is the second time in less than a year Singapore has hosted a tournament and did not get past the group stage.

The previous occasion was last December's AFF Suzuki Cup.

What does the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) think about this?

This SEA Games team had been preparing since early 2011, and had the home ground advantage.

But it seems that we still have problems, even when facing Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines, which did not send their strongest players.

Other teams are improving day by day, but it seems that our national team is getting worse.

The problem started a decade ago when our S-League included foreign teams, like Sinchi and Albirex Niigata, in an effort to improve the league.

Because the FAS wanted to protect these foreign teams, our S-League did not qualify for the AFC Champions League, which does not allow leagues to include foreign teams.

Hence, our local players suffered in terms of exposure, and kept playing within ASEAN only. Meanwhile, other ASEAN clubs improved by participating in top Asian competitions.

The LionsXII's participation in the M-League was supposed to improve our cub team and prepare them for the SEA Games. But this has caused our S-League to suffer.

To improve the S-League, the FAS should stop our participation in the M-League and have the players return to S-League clubs.

The Lions Under-23 squad and foreign teams should be removed from the S-League. Instead, set up a reserve league for young players and increase the foreign player quota to five a club.

Top national teams in Asia or second-tier teams from the rest of the world can be invited here to play friendly matches with our team.

We can never improve if we face the same ASEAN teams year after year. We need to regularly spar with higher-tier teams so we can learn from them and improve. We may suffer for the first few years, but this will improve our national team and youth squad in the long run.

This article was first published on June 15, 2015.
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