Football: 'Give the U-23s a chance'

Football: 'Give the U-23s a chance'
Mr Zainudin Nordin, president of Football Association of Singapore (FAS).

The Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) has made its stance clear - all athletes need to meet the criteria to be nominated for major Games.

For the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, from Sept 19 to Oct 4, the standard is to meet the sixth-placed mark, or beat the sixth-ranked team, from the last Asiad.

Despite the fact that it took place after the appeal deadline of Aug 1, many were surprised by the national Under-23 football team's 3-2 win over 14th-ranked Bahrain U-23s in a friendly on Aug 6.

But football still looks set to be left out of the Asiad, after SNOC secretary-general Chris Chan told The New Paper last week (inset) that the team had failed to meet the criteria.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS), though, still hope the U-23s will be given the green light, after Zainudin Nordin revealed yesterday they were on the verge of submitting a formal appeal to the SNOC.

"I'm not sure the (SNOC) directive is applicable (for team sports), but they have their own way of looking at things, and I hope they can look at it in a different manner, and judge it differently," said the FAS president.

Chan had earlier said that if the SNOC considered FAS' appeal, it would have to "consider all those other athletes who meet seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th-place marks".

But, with world football governing body Fifa having only world rankings for senior teams - not for U-23 sides - Zainudin asserts that there are various obstacles for the team.

He revealed that the FAS had requested to play top-ranked sides, but found it difficult to get the "big teams" to agree to a match. "It may look like we're not planning, but the truth is furthest from that," he insisted.

NOT OBLIGED

"Countries that are highly-ranked are not obliged to play against teams that are lower-ranked, but at (the Asian Games) they have to. And there are no qualifiers - all countries realise this.

"The Asian Games will be a wonderful platform for our boys, and we need to communicate to the people that this is important for development, and we can rise to the challenge."

Football faced a similar situation ahead of the 2010 Guangzhou Asiad.

The Singapore U-23s were initially left out of the contingent, but made the trip after a successful appeal.

The team failed to go beyond the group stages, managing a 0-0 draw with Qatar, and losing to Kuwait (2-0) and India (4-1). They also exited at the group stage at the 2006 Games in Doha.

Asked if the FAS had opened discussions with the SNOC over qualifying criteria, Zainudin said: "The selection of sports is not something new, and we have engaged them at the South-east Asia Games level, too."

He remained upbeat about FAS' appeal, and said: "I'm an optimist, and will always try until people shut the door on me."

The SNOC will submit its final list of athletes to the organisers of the Asian Games on Friday.

I'm a believer in our young players. The Asian Games is a wonderful platform for our boys... and if we give them the opportunity to excel, the boys will do their best. - FAS president Zainudin Nordin

shamiro@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on August 12, 2014.
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