SEA Games: Spanner in the works

SEA Games: Spanner in the works
(From left) National Under-23 coach Aide Iskandar with players Iqbal Hussain and Irfan Fandi at the draw conducted on 15 April 2015 for the June SEA Games. Singapore, bronze medallists at the 2013 Games in Myanmar, have been drawn in a relatively easier Group A with Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines.

The South-east Asia (SEA) Games football tournament may see changes, if Fifa bans Indonesia for its sports ministry not complying with Fifa's guidelines by May 29.

This follows the government's intervention in the Indonesian Football Federation's (PSSI) affairs.

If it does come to a ban, Indonesia would not be able to play in the Games' football tournament.

The groupings - which have been favourable to Aide Iskandar's charges - may also see changes.

At the draw on April 15, Singapore were placed in a five-team Group A, along with the Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar and Indonesia.

Defending champions Thailand are in an arguably tougher Group B that features six teams, along with Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei and Timor Leste.

With Fifa's deadline for Indonesia falling on the day that the Games' football competition starts, organisers would have little reaction time.

According to the rules of the tournament, a situation like this could be defined as "Force Majeure" - unforseeable circumstances that prevent the fulfilment of a contract.

This will lead to the Technical Committee - comprising Singapore South-east Asia Games Organising Committee (Singsoc) officials, Asian Football Confederation representatives and the Football Association of Singapore - being convened to decide on the next course of action.

An Indonesia pullout would see Group A whittled down to four teams, while Group B will have six.

The New Paper understands that this could see a change in the groupings.

It is also within the Technical Committee's power to cancel Indonesia's games and declare them null and void.

"Based on my research, the Indonesia team have already started training and I'm sure they'll do whatever it takes for them to participate," said Aide, after watching his 29-man squad play an internal friendly match at Geylang training field yesterday.


"But, whatever happens, we want to focus on the things we can control, rather than on things we can't."

The situation came to a head after the PSSI stopped Indonesia's top-flight league following a disagreement with its sports ministry over the participation of two clubs.

The ministry responded by freezing all PSSI activities, declaring that it was setting up a transitional body as a step towards replacing the association.

Fifa stood by its rejection of government intervention in football activities, and has backed the PSSI.

"Hopefully, we can find a solution," PSSI chief La Nyalla Mattalitti was quoted as saying by Indonesian news agency Antara.

"If not, we will be sanctioned and we won't be able to compete in the upcoming SEA Games or ASEAN Football Federation sanctioned- tournaments, as well as the 2018 World Cup qualifying games."

While Aide remained focused on his own team, the former Singapore skipper was presented with a welcome headache at Geylang last night.

"I'm very pleased with our preparations in this final phase," he said.

"There is a lot of hunger in the boys, who all want to make the final squad.

"It's hard to drop any players; it's a good selection headache."

Aide will trim his squad down to 25 ahead of next week's trip to Japan, before deciding on his final 20 after two unconfirmed test matches in the week of May 18.

This article was first published on May 7, 2015.
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