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[Annual Review] - Was "HE" There on 28th of November 2015?

I hope that guy, who dropped me an email on the first day of the Lunar New Year in 2012 to chide me for not covering the Malaysian League, did turn up for the game on the 28th of November at the Jalan Besar Stadium (JBS).

If he did, I am not sure how he felt now when he expressed his disappointment in me in that email for not witnessing a "saviour" in the form of a newly formed team - LionsXII that were set to be the "next conqueror" after making "our Great Return to Malaysian football" which he opined was "better than any S-League game" he saw.

The KGS is gone - a symbol of Lions XII's MSL involvement

I would only say I made that decision without any regret and am glad I did, as I merely adhere to what "Uncle" Choo Seng Quee envisaged a long time ago when he said playing in the Malaysia Cup will not see improvement in our game when we are facing their state teams using our national team that we should be aiming for the pinnacle of Asian football instead.

We did when SAFFC (now Warriors FC) twice made it to the group stages of the Asian Champions League (ACL), the pinnacle of the continental club tournament in 2009 and 2010.

Following the capture of our fourth Asean title in 2012 (which I thought would be a launchpad to break out from where we are, after all, what is there for us to prove in the ASEAN region?), it seems that thing has never been the same ever since the signing of the MOU in 2011 between Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and their Malaysian counterparts (FAM).

It is a terrible feeling for me to see this picture (file picture: FAS)

Touted to be a move to revitalize the sagging interest of the game by banking on the nostalgic factor of the tournament which Singapore was the 24-time winner of one of Asia's oldest domestic competitions before the pullout in 1994.

The first two years of the four-year agreement did see numbers swell at the JBS to see V Sundram Moorthy's men take on sides from across the Causeway amid heavy publicity prior to the start of the season.

The success in clinching the MSL title in 2013 and the Malaysia FA Cup months ago by LionsXII didn't cause the projected "spill-over" effect into the ailing S.League, which is perceived as a "second fiddle" as compared to the Malaysian tournaments.

S.League clubs struggling in AFC Cup in recent years

Making things worse was the continuing decline in our clubs' performance on the international front (i.e.: the AFC Cup) when they struggle against teams they used to steamroll over easily in the past on top of dwindling interest in its own backyard.

QUANTITY OR QUALITY

While the short stint was hailed as a successful project by its protagonists for supplying the bulk of players to the national team in the last four years but fallen FIFA ranking had many questioned if it's the quantity that took priority over quality in this aspect given last year's disastrous AFF Suzuki Cup outing and recent World Cup/Asian Cup joint qualifiers to serve as a clear indication that gap is widening between us and rest of the region.

Can clubs afford Safuwan's (left) wages paid by Lions XII, if stay behind?

So when one recent article portrayed the Lions XII players as a group of messiahs if they are to play in S.League next year because of the experience and exposure gained from their adventure across the Causeway together with their national team representation, I thought the writer's argument is lack of conviction, citing those reasons mentioned.

Swift action taken by FAS after that acrimonious MSL exit to assure the livelihood of those affected players can only be interpreted by some quarters where their actual priority lies when the proposed revamp for the local league has been dead silent, despite the fact that Lions XII were officially disbanded a week later following the ouster.

Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya

FEEBLE

Furthermore, the unceremonious exit shown by the folks from Kelana Jaya (FAM) had shown how feeble our football authorities were on this matter when officially made known of the decision after the public was already debating on it.
  • 1994 - WE SALVAGED OUR PRIDE AND PULLED OUT TO BE OUR OWN.
  • 2015 - PRIDE WAS SWALLOWED TO BE VOTED OUT.
Sadly, there may be things that will never change but it's even worse when one never learned the lesson after all these years.

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