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."

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Are The Lions Ready For Bukit Jalil At End Of March?

Shroud in secrecy that at the eleventh hour, many are still unsure if the Singapore national team is ready for their first tournament of the year with no clear indication from the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) on their participation in the AIRMARINE Cup 2019.

"The FAS will be making an announcement on this shortly." was the reply received by this platform after enquiries were put forward to ask several matters pertaining the quadrangular organized by Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) who announced the tournament will feature Oman, Afghanistan (as replacement for Solomon Islands) beside Singapore and host national Malaysia in a press release issued on 25th of February.

FIGHTING FOR FIFA POINTS
With the statement like this that read "The AIRMARINE Cup 2019 aims to be a tournament that delivers a competitive platform for national squads during the international break to gain the necessary exposure and ranking points to advance in the International football scene.", it is without any doubt that national teams of the four nations will be playing in the mentioned tournament scheduled between March 20 and 23 at the Bukit Jalil Stadium at Kuala Lumpur.

Doubt Ikhsan (20) be flying half the globe back for this AirMarine Cup
Following a draw conducted by the organizers at Wisma FAM (FAM headquarters at Kelana Jaya) on 4th of March, Singapore will face Malaysia on 20th of March at 8.45pm with Oman taking on Afghanistan at an earlier time slot in the 87,411-capacity arena.

The winners of both matches will play each other in the final on the 23rd of March at 8.45 pm, the losing teams will square off at 4.30pm on the same day, according to the press release issued by FAM.

THE MAIN CONCERNS... 
In the past, the FAS would usually came up with a press statement of their own in participation of any tournament involving the Lions but it was not the case this time round with several uncertainties hanging around.

First being the post of the national team head coach is still vacant despite earlier suggestions that the post would be filled in a foreign coach by January that along the process saw names like former Iraq coach Jorvan Vieira and Japanese Tatsuma Yoshida among those highlighted by the media as possible successor to Fandi Ahmad who stepped down as interim national coach after last year's AFF Suzuki Cup.

AIA Singapore Premier League just started
Secondly, the new AIA Singapore Premier League season had just started and we are not how the clubs would react if requests for release of players are to be called at this juncture even though the tournament is scheduled within the allocated FIFA international dates, given the domestic campaign is still at its infancy and it would be catastrophic if any of these players return to their clubs with concerns like injuries, etc.

Thirdly, with such a short notice given it is unlikely, in this blogger's opinion, to see overseas-based players like Hassan Sunny, Izwan Mahbud, Baihakki Khaizan and Fandi siblings being called by whosoever taking charge of this team who is likely to face a selection headache given the lack of preparation time before their first game against the auld enemy - Harimau Malaya.

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