Forum > Singapore Football > It's not just about winning medals
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Ting Fu
Posts: 867

Edited on 23-Jul-2006 5:13:21 PM

A travesty indeed. I truly could not believe my eyes when I read that our national football team has been denied the chance to represent the country at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, by none other than SNOC (Singapore National Olympic Council).

The reasons given by the SNOC for the Lions' exclusion from the Asian Games were firstly that the Lions were not in the top six ranked footballing teams in Asia, and that we had not performed up to expectations at the recent SEA Games held in late 2005. 

The first of the two reasons certainly does suggest a narrow-minded approach is being taken to decide the selection of sportsmen for the Asian Games. Let's all thank our lucky stars that other countries have not followed suit, or else there would only be 6 teams left to contend for the honours in the Asian Games football tournament!

In the recent FIFA World Rankings released on July 12, Singapore are ranked a respectable 111th. Notably, we are ahead of all our major Southeast Asian rivals, such as Thailand (113th), Indonesia(139th), Vietnam(141th) and Malaysia(146th).

From my understanding, all four countries are sending their national teams to compete in Doha. Wouldn't it be odd if the Lions were deemed not good enough to participate as well? There are two possibilities here. One is that the four countries listed above have got it all wrong, and are making a foolish decision to bring their non-top-six teams to the Asian Games. The other possibility should be obvious to us all.

Having said that, the rankings are supposed to give some sort of indication as to the quality of the full national teams. The Asian Games football tournament is restricted to players under 23 years, with 3 overaged players allowed.

Are we to ignore the fact that several key players in our U-23 team were key members of our Tiger Cup winning team in early 2005? Baihakki Khaizan, Shahril Ishak, Ridhuan Muhammad and Khairul Amri are just some of the many important players in our winning run, and they were often seen outplaying players many years their senior.

But for the lack of better finishing, we would have done much better in the 2005 SEA Games, but we all know how easy it is for teams to have one bad tournament. South American giants Argentina and Brazil too failed to make it to the World Cup semifinals, but I do not think that their countries will make the decision to decrease the level of support offered to their national teams. Often the survival of teams in tournaments stands on a knife edge, and it was that case for us in 2005, us being victims to an unfavourable combination of results.

The Young Lions have set the S.League alight this year, currently sitting proudly on top of the table. The Young Lions are made up primarily of our U-23 players, and even the most harshest of critics must admit that having our U-23 players play together every week, can only bode well for the future of Singaporean football. Already they are gelling together very well as a team, as seen by their results so far this season.

It is these players who either already have, or will soon play for the nation. Still some of you may say: "But they are only doing well in the S.League, which is a club competition. Certainly that's different from playing against other international sides?"

Which brings us back to the main point. The Young Lions need to step up their game, and what better way to do that than to be playing competitive football against the best teams in Asia? We need to stop merely thinking of sending sportsmen who are expected to bring medals back, and start thinking about the benefits of giving our sportsmen the added exposure of competing at a higher level. Playing the best teams in Asia will provide us with a very good gauge on where we stand as a U-23 team, and perhaps give some insight into the future of Singapore football.

At the end of the day, isn't football our national sport? I do believe football is the most widely supported sport in Singapore today, and it is the dream of many to see Singapore reach the pinnacles of world football one day.

Still, success is not achieved overnight, but rather in a series of steps, one of which I believe is sending our national team to play in larger scale tournaments such as the Asian Games. If we continue to be satisfied with playing in the SEA Games(with or without success) and occasional "rivalry" matches with our neighbours Malaysia(for those who still live in the Malaysia Cup days), I fear we will see little to no progress.

Continue in that fashion, and we will forever be just another country in Southeast Asia.

Ting Fu
Posts: 867

23-Jul-2006 5:12:06 PM

Readers' response: SNOC, reconsider your decision!

Disappointed is not enough to describe my feelings when I heard that the Young Lions once again would not be allowed to take part in this coming Asian Games. If you are not going to let the Young Lions play against the top Asian teams, how are they going to improve and when can we ever reach the World Cup? If this carries on, don’t talk about the now defunct Goal 2010, even if you set Goal 3010, we can never make it to the World Cup!

Maybe SNOC will argue that FAS can invite good teams over and have friendly games with the Lions but come on, let's face it! It is not going to be the same! A friendly game is definitely different from a competition as there is lesser at stake and opposition may not field a strong team. And I believe it will cost lesser to send the team to Asian Games to play than to invite others over.

Beside the selection criteria, is SNOC afraid that the team will disgrace us? Let me tell SNOC we fans are not afraid of seeing the team lose even if the result is like at the 1990 Asian Games when we lost to Korea 7-0 and China 5-1. We fans will be sad at that moment but the most important thing is to see them fight, learn and improve. The experience is going to be invaluable as the Young Lions mature into full-fledged Lions!

Then please look at the S.League. Who is sitting at the top of the table now? YOUNG LIONS!!!!! Young Lions entered the S-league to gain experience but now they are beating teams which are made up of more experienced and senior players. The S.League is no longer providing the sort of experience that can help the Young Lions mature. It is time to expose them to even tougher competition and the Doha Games is a good way.

Lastly, I would like to say that although SNOC has a set of criteria for the selection, exceptions can always be made. Soccer is a national sport! Just look at the National Stadium at the last Tiger Cup Final, a sea of red packed the stadium to support the Lions! No disrespect to the other sports but which other sports have managed to do so? YOU NEED TO BE FLEXIBLE not only to soccer but also other sports with valid reasons to go Doha. Please look at the long term development of the sports and not the short term achievements so I plead with SNOC to reconsider your decision.

Best Regards,
Andy Chua

It is indeed disappointing to learn that our Lions will not be participating in December's Asian Games though end of last year, Fifa named Singapore as Asia's most improved team, which saw the Lions rise 20 notches in the world ranking from 112 to 92.

Mr. Kofi Anan of United Nations in a recent article commented on the impact that the World Cup, like no other sports, has in bringing a whole world together and likewise especially in Singapore, it has been recognised that football has been successful in bringing a nation from all walks of life together.

No other sports commands such a great support as well as being played and enjoyed by many, young and old. As such the criteria for selection should be different for Football.

It is imperative that our Lions be given the opportunity to compete competitively with the best internationally in order to improve our play and provide our young footballers the opportunity and hope of experiencing and possibility of playing on the international platform.

I feel sorry for Raddy, our Lions and FAS who have worked hard to get this far as well as the support of fans, to be let down in this way.

It would indeed be a shame if we do not continue with our quest and thus would be taking 20 steps backwards after having shown much improvement recently.

Best Reagrds,
Carol Tan (Mrs)

It is definitely a short-sighted decision by SNOC not sending the Young Lions to Doha. You train to play, and you play to get the result. The result need not be the top three position, but a result for the future. The Young Lions certainly need that kind of big stage to experience and the whole team need (including the team manager, coaches, trainers) need that kind of exposure to improve. Just setting our sights on the SEA Games or Tiger Cup...we will go no where.

We can’t improve if we do not play with the Asian powerhouses, like Japan, Korea, China, Iran. Why are we worry about getting thrashed? (We were narrowly beaten by Japan, and we beat Iraq!) It is a road that we have to go through.

For a football fan , it is a disappointing decision, and for the player and the coaching staff, it is definitely a demoralizing decision. After putting so much effort and playing so hard in the S.League this season, it's back to the drawing board again.

Don’t give up, make the impossible possible!

Best Regards,

I am very disappointed with SNOC's decision to drop the Under 23's soccer team from the DOHA event. Lets face it, what are the chances of the other sporting teams grabbing the top 3 spots? Can count by the fingers! Why not send our U-23 for the experience, as they deserve it. By the time our so-called 'old participants' are 'READY' , they are already dads or gramps! Let the U-23 go as a carrot, not a gold winning trip.

Best Regards,
Peter Lim

I am a primary school teacher who is also in charge of our school's football team. On my football's notice board, I put up the faces of Indra, Noh Alam, Baihakki with the slogan "Do you want to be like one of them? Join the football team and fulfil your dreams now!"

With SNOC's recent decision to drop football from the Asian Games, it has shattered the dreams of my primary school pupils. This decision not only affects our Young Lions, but has also disrupted the whole footballing set-up, from school level, right up to national team level. How am I going to motivate my pupils to fulfil their dreams of becoming the next Indras, Alam Shahs, Baihakkis when they see their countrymen not giving the football team a chance to represent Singapore in a major tournament?

Myself, and a lot of my fellow primary school coaches, have tried to do our best to lay the foundation for the football scene here. But it seems like our effort is going to go down the drain now. Please, for football's sake and the dreams of millions of school children out there, reconsider your decision now, SNOC.

Yours Sincerely,
Marcus Yip

Forum > Singapore Football > It's not just about winning medals

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