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The TODAY's exclusive on the 16th of December ('S-League needs major surgery') seems to have triggered a wide range of discussions on the flaws in local football.

A break from the past template of reviewing the events of the past year, I selected a few topics that caught my attention and blogged my thoughts on them instead...

Did Home United mess up itself at the end of the day by allowing Shahril Ishak (pictured below) to leave at the most critical juncture of the season?

Shahril Ishak's crowning as the "Player of the Year" 

While every effort had been made to offer its former skipper a much-improved contract that would have seen the inspiring midfielder being the highest paid at the club, the Protectors were helpless, but to see its prized possession left for Indonesia.

The absence of the national midfielder was in evidence as Home United's form took a beating following his departure.

And after a few scary moments only to see their best title hopes in recent years faltered away after a one-all draw with Gombak United at the JBS.

Sorry HU fans, it's not yours this time round.

Therefore, it's not hard to see why the question be asked why would the club take such a big decision to let go of such a key player at that point in time?

It also highlighted the flaws in the contractual obligation of players to their clubs that allow players to join other clubs, so long the desire of the particular player is determined.

It doesn't matter if transfer fees are being paid in those recent transfers involving Khairul Amri (from Tampines Rovers) or Goran Subara (Gombak United), the point is that no matter how many dollars were being paid it would never compensate for the loss title hopes thrown away by their own doing.

In a match that did not have any deciding factor to determine the outcome of the title race, but had both the Young Lions and Beijing Guoan Talent thrust into the limelight for the wrong reason.

The mass brawl was followed by some manageable skirmishes that took place during this hotly-contested fixture between the two sides had catapulted the league into undesirable worldwide fame at the end of the day.

Young Lions' skipper Hariss Harun and his Beijing counterpart, Zhang Zhaohui in a luncheon at "Carousel".

Not just that unwelcome fame, but it was regrettable that this undesired event had blown out of proportion that it was not just a fight that took place on the field.

But mainly because one of the involved parties was a foreign team, which has long been the bone of contention for the fans who by large loathe their existence in the league and to a larger extent in this country.

Okay, so what if they had won the S.League title in their debut year?

The reality struck them hard as fast they got their hands on the championship trophy with chairman-cum-CEO Johan Gouttefangeas quick to admit the "dismantle" of this championship-winning team is inevitable with some local clubs already showing keen interest in roping some of these French players.

Need to have a bigger platform to ensure Etoile's sustainability must be Gouttefangeas's (pictured above) concern

But perhaps the harshest reality would be the fact that with the pre-existing rules stipulated in the “S.League Rules Book 2010”, Etoile will not be featured as Singapore's representative in any continental tournaments (hope they still remember that).
“The S.League Champions and the Singapore Cup Champions shall participate in the competitions organised by AFC (Asian Football Confederation) and AFF (Asean Football Federation).

…. if the S.League Champion is a foreign-based team (namely Albirex Niigata Singapore FC, Beijing Guoan Talent FC and Etoile FC), then the next highest-placed local team in the S.League shall represent the S.League in the AFC and AFF competitions.”
Rule 11.5 of S.League Rules 2010.
Therefore, for this group of French players, unless they are lucky enough to be spotted by clubs from bigger regional leagues randomly, they will never get a chance to parade their capability on a bigger stage.

How sad...

When I first met Aliff Shafaein in person in the 2006 Singapore Cup Final at the old National Stadium.

It was his moment of glory as he stabbed home the late winner to see Tampines Rovers beat Chonburi FC to win the Cup and I said this to him, "Hope to see you in the national team."

Unfortunately, the diminutive midfielder affectionately known as the "Little Master" was constantly overlooked by coach Raddy and I never shy away to say Aliff should be in the national team for his ability to shackle any tightest defence on his day.

I repeated my belief on Aliff prior to the Cup Final weeks ago over a meal with a friend from the media and eventually witnessed what could be his final game (pictured above against Bangkok Glass) for the time being when it was reported he was caught for some driving offences before the game the following day.

Could you imagine the jaw-drop expression when I got an SMS from a friend who texted me?

I once asked a visibly upset member of the blog facebook group what solution he would have for us to remedy the shortcomings Singapore football is facing.

Having reiterated all the shortcomings in his previous postings, that was only one thing that I caught and was worthy of attention.

He said, "to be honest.. like you, I have no idea how to change it..."

Sentiments like this are not uncommon after any kind of situation when things went wrong.

It ranges from calling for the drop of unperformed players, and the sacking of the coach to the revamp of the league and the whole football system, but in the end what has been done and changed?

Other than the launch of the "Strategic Plan", the implementation of the new football syllabus and the spark provided by the Little Cubs during the YOG, nothing significant had been done.

Although, we fans and some media are equally guilty of finger-pointing too much while hesitant in times to roll up our sleeves to fix the woes besieging the league.

As mentioned, all parties have a role to play in lifting up the league profile, but sometimes we are just clueless as problems are too massive

I'm sure all of us had been through those "problem-solving" courses, right?

As whining is never the solution and I know a lot of people had already thrown the towel and walked away, but this is not going to solve the problem.

A fresh injection of ideas and finding the bit of motivation to get things going is the priority now, so how do get started?

Start from the "Fishbone" technique we learnt from those courses and we should able to get a thing or two from it...

Local football could be saved by a "Fishbone", who knows?
(Picture Credit: Opera Chic)

To say I am not disappointed with what happened the past year in local football is something that would be against my conscience.

Having been involved in the scene for more than a decade and seeing much of the things remain status-quo or get worse is something really frustrating.

I would say others would have quit and washed their hands completely to stay clear of local football.

Yet there is a small core group of loyalists that are still undeterred by those scorns or sarcastic remarks by their family, peers and strangers.

Kudos to these folks for their undying belief in the local football and for me to walk away now would deem something irresponsible of me too.

Just like a fellow peer of mine who said, "It's no longer just passion to keep us going, but it's now more of a responsibility to keep us going."



  1. If FAS are serious in revamping S League, the first thing they should do is to kick out all the foreign teams from S League. With foreign teams in S League, not only it indirectly caused S League, or Singapore football in general to go downhill, it also make our DOMESTIC league looks like a joke!

    If our surrounding countries can have a league without foreign teams, I don't see why we can't have a S League which comprises of 8-10 teams - ALL LOCAL?

  2. With Etoile winning the title and BKK Glass winning the Cup, it had proven that foreign sides "definitely" helps to lift up the league in the eyes of the league authority (while of course not in the eyes of the common masses).

    Based on TODAY's story (dated 21/12/10), it's likely to stay "status-quo" in getting a foreign replacement, unless Yishun Super Reds (still remember what they did promised?)can put up a solid bid to convince the decision-maker.

    However, with recently the Mayor admitted the woes facing the league, you never know what's next...stay tuned


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