“We are pleased to involve the NFL teams in one of the biggest professional cup competitions in Singapore, as we have always regarded them as a big part of the local football fraternity. This is also a good chance for NFL to experience a professional level of football, which will aid in their long term development. We look forward to another year of quality football in the StarHub League Cup.”Those words were by S.League CEO Lim Chin in a media statement issued by the League authority over the weekend making known the involvement of the lower-tier National Football League (NFL) clubs' in the mid-season Starhub League Cup.
|SCC - one of 4 NFL clubs that via for League Cup spot (file picture)|
In a “cross-over” play-off format that saw the “champions” pit against the “runners-up” fixtures to determine the winners from those two match on who will battle it on the 12th of May at the Jalan Besar Stadium for the right to compete in the 2013 StarHub League Cup (which in the end saw Admiralty and SRC emerged from their outings against SCC and Sporting Westlake FC respectively to slug it out for that elusive spot).
Inevitably, the involvement in the League Cup from the non-league clubs to compete with the big boys of the local football scene should be the way forward to bridge the gap between the S.League clubs and their cousins in the NFL, other than having the latter square it off against the Prime League squads of the former in the annual FA Cup being the only option.
|Singapore Cup left with Bangkok Glass in 2010|
Indeed, although, I am pretty sure many out there would feel the setting should be that in the upcoming RHB Singapore Cup, that is scheduled to kick off in weeks to come as well.
After all, with all due respect to the League Cup (which had witnessed some thrilling encounters in the recent years), the Singapore Cup should be seen as the "Holy Grail" of all Cup competitions in this country for any team, whether they are in the S.League or Islandwide League to aim for a shot at it since the winner of the competition will be featured in the continental front the following season.
Nonetheless, the recent years had already seen the Singapore Cup elevated to the status of that liken "Asean Club Invitational Tournament" or "Asean Friendship Invitational" with participation from clubs around the regional countries like Burma, Thailand, Laos, etc.
|Etoile FC - one of the past League Cup winners (in 2010)|
Certainly, the organizers, themselves, wouldn't want to stuck in an awkward situation that the finalists of this year's Cup Final would be two of those invited sides with those foreign-based S.League clubs and importantly, for the NFL clubs - being denied a chance of shot of glory like how non-league Hereford United defeated then First Division's Newscastle United in the 1972 FA Cup.