|Stuck in South East Asia?|
In the ceremony held yesterday in Kuantan, capital of the Malaysian state of Pahang that saw former Lions' coach Raddy Avramovic and Shahril Ishak clinched the "Coach of the Year (Men's Team)" and "Player of the Year (Men)" awards respectively with the likes of Fahrudin Mustafic and Baihakki Khaizan named alongside with Shahril in the "AFF's First XI".
While the crowning glory was to appreciate the efforts shown by the national team in the biennial regional tournament with the bragging rights to be called the “Kings of Asean Football”, it didn't hide the fact that Singapore football isn't exactly building up from its success after its unprecedented fourth Asean title.
|Both Tampines (yellow) and Warriors (blue) are our rep in AFC Cup|
Armed with the tag as the reigning Asean champions, the team travelled to Amman to face Jordan in the Asian Cup Qualifiers and saw them being ripped apart by the hosts 4-0, such a wide gulf of standard is best summed up in an article posted on Al-Jazeera website not that long ago, in which I quoted.
“Southeast Asia is something of a bubble. Once you are in it, getting out can be hard and the same goes for national teams that play each other far too often instead of testing themselves against outside forces. The AFF Suzuki Cup – the region’s biennial tournament – is fiercely contested but increasingly ignored by the wider world.”.Adding salt to the wounds of the stagnancy is the recent poor showing on the continental front by the two Singapore representatives in the second-tier AFC Cup, which traditionally seen as seamless cruise from the group stages to the knockout phrase in the recent years, but not this time round though had done little to cushion the impact so far.
The defending Singapore Cup winners Warriors FC (formerly known as SAFFC and the Republic's sole representative in the prestigious Asian Champions League to date) saw themselves gunned down 3-0 by Churchill Brothers in India on Tuesday.
Whereas, S.League champions Tampines Rovers failed to translate their brilliant domestic form in their Group H encounter against another sub-continent club East Bengal a day later in a thrilling 4-2 defeat (video highlights above) at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Hence, the irony of the release of the AFF Awards' results came at a timing when the Stags just confirmed their spot at the foot of the standings in their Asian adventure after the loss to their Indian opponents.
|Shared my thoughts after the Suzuki Cup win|