Recipe for success

Recipe for success
LionsXII footballer Hariss Harun at a training session held on 27 September 2013, the day prior to the first leg Malaysia Cup quarter-final match against ATM FA at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) revealed on Monday that it will appoint a new technical director before the end of March.

The search for a successor to Serb Slobodan Pavkovic has been narrowed down to five candidates, who were shortlisted from over 60 applicants from the top 20 countries in the world football rankings.

The appointment will represent the final piece of the jigsaw for the FAS as its vice-presidents Bernard Tan and Edwin Tong work to prepare a detailed proposal to host either the 2019 or 2021 Fifa Under-17 World Cup.

The association had announced at its Annual General Meeting last September that they would bid to bring the biennial tournament to the Lion City.

Not since Malaysia hosted the U-20 World Cup in 1997 has the region seen an international football tournament of such magnitude.

As Tong explained to The New Paper (see sidebar on far right), the new technical director's job scope will revolve around Singapore's proposal for the Youth World Cup and improving the overall standard of the age-group teams so that a Cubs team will be able to compete against the world's best in four to six years' time.

So how should he go about doing it? Here are some expert views.

1 START YOUNG, START SIMPLE

Former Malaysia coach B Sathianathan's advice is simple and straightfoward - go back to the basics.

The 56-year-old assisted Frenchman Claude Le Roy, who coached Malaysia, during the 1997 Under-20 World Cup which Malaysia qualified as hosts.

Sathianathan recalled how Malaysian players, selected through open trials as there was no proper centralised youth system in the country then, found themselves out of their depth at the youth World Cup. They lost all three group games - 1-3 to Morocco and Uruguay and 0-3 to Belgium.

When asked what Singapore's new technical director should work on, Sathianathan (right) said: "He has to start them younger. It's good you have a national U-12 team now, but you should look to go even younger.

"Start them at eight years old, and help them get the basics right, polish their ability on the ball. It's important the new technical director puts a system in place to produce many talents, and not only produce a team for a particular tournament, because we've seen many times how some players blossom at a later age."

Fifa's technical study team for the 1997 tournament noted in its report that "top-level football would be possible" only if Malaysia began a "continuous programme" to develop players at an early age.

Seak Poh Leong, who was FAS' technical director from 1985 to 1991, agreed.

He said that the new technical director also needs support and resources.

Seak said: "I've read about Bernard Tan talking about grassroots football and building the base, and that's a good place to start.

"But then, do we have the coaches in place to help build the base? It (coach education) is a process and we need to look at it closely and keep going at it."

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