|Coach Stange (right) has a difficult time (file)|
In national coach Bernd Stange's eyes, some of the local players are merely "semi-professionals" and "even close to amateur" with more training need to be done to close the gap.
This was remarked by Coach Stange in an article that appeared in an online portal after the recent friendly against Juventus in which he led the Singapore Selection against the Italian giants.
|Al-Qaasimy in action against Juventus (file)|
“Now they are free, they have to work and they have to train harder. There is only one way to success and that is training… and we have to do more and work harder on our players." added Coach Stange in the said article that carried those words.
Those opinions somehow contradicted what was said by his employers weeks earlier.
“It has been important for us to place great emphasis on producing and developing young players in the past few years, and we are beginning to see the fruits of our labours. It is good to see many National Football Academy (NFA) graduates in the National Team now; in fact, we even have players who have played in the Lion City Cup in past years who will represent the country in the AFF Suzuki Cup now."
The above statement was made by FAS president Mr Zainudin Nordin in a media release coincide with the recent announcement of AFF Suzuki Cup draw that grouped Singapore alongside Malaysia and Thailand.
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For the former Belarus national coach to make such a remark publicly is something rare since he took over the hot seat last May when he is often closely aligned himself with great faith in the youth development under the "Strategic Plan" initiated by the local game governing body (as far as I concern).
Perhaps, Coach Stange may have come to a point that he would just have to make do with the 41 players he brought with to the Austrian training trip after expressed disappointment for not able to find the type of players he wanted in the S.League.
Adding salt to the wound of late is the disastrous outing in the recent Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy (HBT) Tournament that was represented mainly by players groomed by the NFA system, in which the Singapore side lost all their five matches by sizable margin against those countries who used to be those regional whipping boys.
The far-from-satisfactory outcome drawn by criticism (1, 2) from some quarters in the local football fraternity for overlooked some players from the runaway Prime League leaders Home United who are having several eligible players for the Under-21 tournament in favour of those "Cubs" as mentioned by Coach Stange in this Straits Time report.
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AFF Suzuki Cup (file)
However, the much urgent task ahead for all is how can the existing framework help bring up the level of standard for those in the "wilderness" to earn a call-up to the national team?
|Wahyudi Wahid (front) in action (file)|
Said the former striker-turned-defender:“It’s very difficult to make the national team but hopefully by working hard, foreign or Malaysian clubs can notice and I can get to play for them. Honestly, who does not like to play in front of big crowds?”
If the existing framework is not the solution to widen the pool for the national team, then it's time to dismantle it before the public support erode should things remain "status quo".
After all, football shall be an inclusive sport for all to excel and not being an exclusive domain for a selected few.