Football: The goal to find a winning formula

Football: The goal to find a winning formula
Zainudin Nordin

The wait for Fifa to green light the formation of the ASEAN Super League (ASL) is an anxious one for those who believe the move could change the face of football in the region.

This part of the world is home to some of the most fanatical football fans in Asia, and a new competition involving elite teams from the 11-member ASEAN Football Federation promises to attract big followings and stoke rivalries that will stir up intense excitement and generate much publicity.

It will, almost certainly, attract "big-brand" sponsors.

I have spoken to Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin on many occasions, but when I met him last week to talk about the future of the local game, his passion and love of the sport were even more animated.

Zainudin and Winston Lee, the FAS general secretary, are working hard to put out a winning blueprint for the ASL.

Charged to lead the drive to form the ASL, the FAS must ensure it stays true to the original intent, if Fifa does sanction the competition.

If Fifa gives the thumbs up, then the ASL must be a top club competition featuring teams with sizeable annual budgets and with star players pockmarked all over South-east Asia.

Zainudin and his team, led by Lee, are going about putting the pieces together for the ASL while also continuing a major review of the S.League, which is about to kick off its 20th season on Sunday.

The FAS has faced a barrage of criticism from many quarters over the state of the Great Eastern Yeo's S.League for some years now. I have been critical as well, lamenting the standard of football and the poor quality of foreign signings by clubs.

I have complained about dismal fan attendance and expressed dismay over the fitness levels of players.

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