For The Record...
"In an interview with Yahoo! Singapore, Zainudin (Nordin, FAS President) reiterated that the S-league will not become a "poorer cousin" once the LionsXII start their Malaysia Cup campaign."

Friday, May 12, 2017

How Singapore Cup served as a platform for others to excel further but not ours ...

Time had changed, as Singapore football now see teams from the Philippines as the favourites to win this season's RHB Singapore Cup.

With the Filipino clubs' good run in the ongoing AFC Cup tournament which saw both Global Cebu FC and Ceres-Negros to be featured in the upcoming semi-finals of the continental competition's Asean zonal group, it is justify to say the footballing standard in the archipelago is on the rise.

Ceres (black) ripped apart Tampines twice this year
This testament is backed by Kazuaki Yoshinaga, the head coach of reigning Cup holders Albirex Niigata (Singapore) who related his team's experience against Ceres-Negros in a pre-season friendly played in February.

Speaking to The Straits Times after the draw of the preliminary round of this season's tournament, the 49-year-old said:"We have played against Ceres Negros before and they are not a pushover."

NOT LONGER "WHIPPING BOYS" ...
On top of the launch of the Philippines Football League (PFL), the influx of large number of European-based players who are of mixed parentage with Filipino heritage turning out for the Azkals (the nickname of country's national football team) in recent years could be some of the factors that see the country top the recent FIFA ranking in South East Asia.

Singapore Cup - good platform for those utilised it well (credit: Football Association of Singapore)
In the past, Filipino invitees to the island republic’s premier Cup tournament were looking for exposure to higher level of play and now in a role reversal, it is our S.League clubs who are using this opportunity to play against these tougher opponents whom were once the whipping boys of the region.

Beside the Filipino clubs, another invited side in the past - Hong Kong's newly-crowned league champions Kitchee SC, who played in 2010 edition, are making remarkable progress too.

Since the day they were thrashed 4-0 by SAFFC in 2008's AFC Cup competition, the Hong Kong Barça transformed themselves to a nemesis of S.League sides in Asia when they ripped apart both Tampines Rovers and Warriors FC years later in the same competition which they have been a force to be reckoned with of late. Following their crowning glory days ago, Kitchee will be playing in the prestigious Asian Champions League (ACL) next year.

Kitchee - "whipping boys" turned "conquerors" (file snap)
"Overseas teams, not just the Filipinos, usually have their foreign stepping stones in the Singapore Cup," said freelance journalist Gary Koh. "Several have gone on to feature in the AFC Cup and ACL qualifiers, most notably Kitchee, Chonburi, Bangkok Glass and Global."

"The competition faced against other foreign teams or locally-based clubs (in Singapore Cup) provided a novel competitive factor they (invited sides) lack back at home. Success gives them believe they can do more to expand their horizons in Asia.

"The challenge right now for our local clubs is to use the invitation of foreign teams to up our game, given our decline in Asia in recent years. We weren't as competitive enough as we used to, so having these teams gives them an incentive to perform - and a breath of fresh air compared to facing the same league sides a minimum of three times." added Koh who covers regional football in his scope of work.

CAMBODIANS NEXT?
As pointed out by Koh in his assessment, the decline of Singapore football in recent years allowed minnows like Laos and Cambodia to show what their footballers are capable of in their encounters against the Lions during the past few years.

It would hardly be a surprise if the Cambodian sides are the next group to show their gratitude to the Singapore Cup as a platform to elevate the quality of their game in this process. After all, club sides from this kingdom have been making their presence since 2007 with Phnom Penh Crown having the best record by made it to the quarter-finals in 2009.

Singapore vs Cambodia is common fixture these days (file snap)
Furthermore, let's not forget our national team did not have an easy ride against their Cambodian counterparts in recent meetings which included the two-one defeat in Phnom Penh back in last July and that narrow one-nil win at Bishan months later prior to the ill-fated AFF Suzuki Cup campaign.

Whilst Koh acknowledged those achievements as signs of "gradual improvement" for Cambodian football, he opined the gap between the two is still wide apart.

Said Koh:"There is still a tremendous gap between the Cambodian league sides and us, but it is narrowing.

"Should Cambodian teams be more competitive, i.e.: narrowing the margins of defeats, or even making consecutive (Singapore) Cup quarter-finals appearances in the seasons to come, it will be a major sign of progress they have made - and this is where our clubs should be concerned, if they aren't concerned now."

Indeed, justification has been seeked to determine the need of having our local sides constantly spar against foreign teams in both S.League and the Singapore Cup, hopefully at this juncture you already have the answer on why there is such a necessity.

1 comment:

  1. The writing has been on the wall a long time and Singapore footballer have been and still is living in denial. All the complain about small salary and having to work part time to feed the family is true but it effect the standard of the game. The best coach in the world cannot do a thing in our football culture where players want to be treated like a professional but act like a pamper feeling. They don't like to be scolded or shouted at. So many good and renown coaches has come to our shore but left with tails between their legs as they cannot do anything to help Singapore football. I have nothing against local coaches but can they impose the hard discipline and training that is need to up the game and produce better footballer. We have to come to the hard fact that the best in our lands is simply not good enough for the world

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