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Football must be not an exclusive sport ...

Coach Stange (right) has a difficult time (file)
Coach Stange (right) has a difficult time (file)

So, we are facing the hard truth that after having a professional football league for close to almost twenty years, we are nowhere near to calling ourselves a PROFESSIONAL league that contributes $200 million to the local economy.

In national coach Bernd Stange's eyes, some of the local players are merely "semi-professionals" and "even close to amateur" with more training needs 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)
Al-Qaasimy in action against Juventus (file)

Said the German coach in that Yahoo Sports article“If you’re 19, 20 or 21 years old and you’re semi-professional for a long time, like Al-Qaasimy [Rahman], who [just] came back from NS now, my expectation [for players] should be limited,”

“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 coinciding with the recent announcement of the AFF Suzuki Cup draw that grouped Singapore alongside Malaysia and Thailand.

Can we retain Asean supremacy?
Can we retain Asean supremacy?

One can't help but feel sorry for Al-Qaasimy having been singled out by Coach Stange for such illustration, as he is one of those epitomized as a "success story" thanks to careful nurturing by the NFA system.

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 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 where he would just have to make do with the 41 players he brought with him to the Austrian training trip after expressing disappointment for not being 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 a 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 overlooking 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 a Straits Time report.

Stange hopes for a packed Kallang for the coming November AFF Suzuki Cup (file)
Stange hopes for a packed Kallang for the coming November
AFF Suzuki Cup (file)

Ironically, the plead from the national coach for all Singaporeans to come forward to throw their support behind the national team in November's AFF Suzuki Cup tournament remains uncertain given various factors, unless convincing results in coming weeks from those in the list can justify the worthiness to pack the new National Stadium end of the year.

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)
Wahyudi Wahid (front) in action (file)

Especially days ago, during the annual Sultan of Selangor Cup match, Hougang United defender Wahyudi Wahid made the following comment in an interview with Four Four Two after the match.

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 erodes should things remain "status quo".

After all, football shall be an inclusive sport for all to excel and not an exclusive domain for a selected few.


  1. Hi Pohui, this is the link that FAS and coaching staff must view if they keep insisting that national players must only come from a single club or group( lionsXII and CYL). Just listen to the comments from the 70's hongkong successful national coach at the end of the clip. Hope u can post it in ur facebook Cheers .


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