Lack of answers from FAS a big concern

Lack of answers from FAS a big concern
PHOTO: The New Paper

The Lions lead their World Cup qualifying Group E after two games, pulling off one of Singapore's greatest results when they held mighty Japan in Saitama last month.

Hariss Harun, Safuwan Baharudin and Izwan Mahbud look to have big futures ahead of them, youngsters like Madhu Mohana and Izzdin Shafiq are developing nicely with the LionsXII.

Shahdan Sulaiman, a Rolls Royce in the team's midfield until a horrific leg break while on international duty last November, is back and showing signs of his old self.

Singapore's national football team look to have a solid base of players for the next few years, and we wait to find out who will be the ringmaster of the Lions down the road.

It is among a number of burning questions the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) must answer in a pivotal period for the local game.

Maddeningly, the country continues to wait to hear from the FAS how last month's SEA Games challenge on home soil failed so badly, after the exco meeting yesterday failed to furnish any report.

It has been 48 days since the Singapore Under-23s lost to Myanmar and exited the group stage of a Games where the team had targeted at least a place in the final and the silence of the FAS is alarming.

The S.League requires major surgery and there is a distinct possibility Singapore's top domestic club competition could return to the old semi-professional format.

Technical director Michel Sablon and newly installed national youth teams coach Richard Tardy have been charged to develop a pipeline that hums continuously.

FAS vice-president Bernard Tan is determined to grow the base of young footballers.

He and fellow vice-president Edwin Tong face the enormous challenge of putting together a blueprint for the nation to host the Under-17 World Cup in 2019.

While each task is a formidable challenge, the national coach is almost always the face of a football organisation, and many Singaporeans will be thrilled that Fandi Ahmad and V Sundramoorthy are in the running for the post.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

I'm sure incumbent Bernd Stange believes he has unfinished business after his Lions flopped in the defence of the Suzuki Cup on home soil last year.

While the German has insisted he will not talk about his future, the Lions' 4-0 thumping of Cambodia on June 11 in Phnom Penh and the 0-0 with Japan four days later are an admirable bounce back by his players.

Stange roped in Fandi and Sundram as assistants for the two matches and I've already heard the mutterings that the two positive results came about because of the work of the two former celebrated Singapore internationals.

Neutrals will say such a conclusion is unfair on Stange. This is hardly helpful and reflects the negative atmosphere surrounding Singapore football right now.

A football-mad nation wants to know how the FAS plans to move Singapore forward, with the ASEAN Super League supposedly on the horizon.

I continue to wonder if Hariss, Safuwan and Izwan have genuine prospects to play professionally in top foreign leagues.

Singapore fans will no doubt be hopeful when the Lions meet Syria in their next World Cup qualifier in Muscat on Sept 3.

The national team will then play four consecutive qualifiers at home - Afghanistan (Oct 8), Cambodia (Oct 13), Japan (Nov 12) and Syria (Nov 17).

Those are tantalising prospects, with the Lions genuine contenders to finish second - one would expect Japan to get their act together and be top - and keep up their hopes of qualifying for the 2019 Asian Cup Finals.

As the countdown continues for what is hopefully exciting action involving our Lions at the National Stadium, the wait for answers from the FAS over critical issues off the field is worrying.

leonardt@sph.com.sg

 


This article was first published on July 29, 2015.
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