Football: FAS silent after exco meeting

Football: FAS silent after exco meeting
With the Asean Super League set to kick off in August next year, LionsXII players and coach Fandi Ahmad are unclear whether they will represent the country in the new competition.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

A thick fog of uncertainty has now settled over Singapore football.

The future of the S.League hangs in the balance, with the Asean Super League (ASL) poised to kick off next year and the participation of the LionsXII in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) still to be decided.

National coach Bernd Stange's contract runs out in September, with Fandi Ahmad and V Sundramoorthy tipped to take over the helm.

And, to convolute matters, a conclusion has yet to be reached over the SEA Games debacle.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) executive committee sat yesterday in a meeting that lasted for some two hours and, while the press gathered at the Jalan Besar Stadium to hear the outcome, they were left disappointed as none was forthcoming.

Sources revealed that only the SEA Games issue was tabled for discussion.

The FAS did not respond to queries sent in by The New Paper, and the lack of any sort of clarity continues to leave the football fraternity on tenterhooks.

Speaking to TNP later, former Singapore captain Razali Saad said: "The decision on the S.League is very urgent - no one knows for sure what is happening, not the players, not the clubs.

"What about the sponsors? As it is, they are not getting much mileage, not much return on the sponsorship dollar. Why would they come in if things are like this?"

This paper reported yesterday that one of the options being considered is turning the only professional sports league in Singapore semi-professional.

According to Razali, that may not be too bad an idea.

"Look at the football market here, private companies are running competitions that have big (participation) numbers and good players, too," he said.


"Maybe the authorities can consider a zonal competition that includes more teams, because it seems that if we don't do that, no one will be interested in the S.League - especially after the SEA Games debacle.

"Maybe we've got to drop our expectations and go back to semi-pro."

On the subject of the national coach, former Singapore stalwart Malek Awab believes that his former teammates, Fandi and Sundram, are both ready to take over the reins of the Lions. He has one other wish - for Kadir Yahaya to be drafted back into the national set-up.

"The FAS need to know its stand with Stange - it needs to plan one or two years ahead. Maybe it's not for me to say what it needs to do, I'm just an ex-player, but I want to see Singapore football move forward," he said.

"Any one of the two (Fandi and Sundram) can be national coach, but I want to see Kadir Yahaya also brought back into the system.

"Kadir should be brought into some sort of a technical director-type role, and Fandi and Sundram in the national team and the LionsXII.

And they need to communicate and cooperate, put the dollars and cents of salary issues aside."

Razali, who like Malek played with the above trio in the Singapore team that battled in Malaysian football in the 1990s, urged the FAS to install a directed long-term plan.

He asserted that the SEA Game debacle, which saw a public spat between Stange and Aide Iskandar, hinted at a much deeper problem.

Pointing to the appointment of a Belgian, technical director Michel Sablon, a Frenchman in Richard Tardy, who is the head of National Football Academy coaches, and German Stange, Razali said: "We know that we need youth development and we need to go back to grassroots. We've known that for a long time - our problem seems to be putting it into action.

"There doesn't seem to be continuity. We've hired several foreign experts - no disrespect to them - but the local coaches don't seem to know what direction we're taking.

"They're the ones on the ground... and facing the same old problems like finding facilities for training sessions for their teams.

"What we need - what we've always needed - is action and the experts hired must be empowered to execute their plans."


This article was first published on July 29, 2015.
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