The national broadsheet The Straits Times, in a stinging commentary against the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), has alleged that national U22 coach Philippe Aw was “shackled” and silenced ahead of the Southeast Asian Games, and was not granted face to face interviews with the media.
Send questions via email, the media was allegedly instructed.
All because of a non-scripted and honest response to the media following Singapore’s loss to Hong Kong in the Merlion Cup, when Aw said that “what is happening today is the cause of 10 years ago.”
A frank and honest assessment then which apparently did not go down well with the people in charge at the FAS.
The Straits Times commentary, written by sports journalist Deepanraj Ganesan, also questioned how Singapore football was going to get better if there was no admission that the sport in truly down in the dumps and in the doldrums.
He also added that whenever the national daily wanted to speak to staff or coaches, none were willing to share the information about the continued decline of Singapore football on the record.
The Straits Times also referred to Singapore as football minnows and asked that the national body be transparent about “where we stand and what needs to be done to correct the wrongs.”
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
Among the points raised by the commentary was that Singapore’s U22’s did not have any training camp ahead of the SEA Games ahead of the Cambodia SEA Games.
This was exactly what was raised by former coach Nazri Nasir after the Young Lions faced an early exit at the 2021 SEA Games held in Hanoi in 2022.
When the Young Lions were dumped out of the SEA Games in 2022, former national skipper Nazri said that “we need the players to gel together and “if we could have played more matches or had a (longer) training camp, it would have been better.”
“When you prepare for a tournament like the SEA Games, we need to have more time together,” he added then.
“The intensity of the football (in the SPL) and the aggression is different” and “looking forward, we should have more games, more time for the players to be together and give me more time to work with the club players.
“That’s what I want for the future.”
And what happened this year, just one year after Nazri’s points post-SEA Games?
Just two weeks before facing Thailand in the opening match, the bulk of the squad were playing in the Singapore Premier League (SPL), sans players from Lion City Sailors, Tampines Rovers and other SPL clubs who were called up to the final squad of 20.
So how many training sessions did the entire SEA Games squad have together before the first match against Thailand?
So does the FAS actually bother about what its coaches are asking for to help the team do better?
And are they really keen to help football improve?
WHERE IS THE ACCOUNTABILITY?
Singapore has failed to make the semi-finals of the Southeast Asian Games men’s football tournament since 2013.
Despite the embarrassment, there has been zero accountability from the people in charge at the national football body.
What’s worse is that despite the failures, at youth and national levels, more of taxpayers funds are being expanded on a sport which is being led by a leadership team who does not seem to want to take responsibility for the failures of the game at every level.
Unleash The Roar! (UTR), the government-led initiative to help lift the standards of Singapore football is supposed to support the sport’s growth, in addition to the funds provided to the FAS on an annual basis.
Unfortunately, nothing will improve if the same people who are limiting the development of the game and who do not understand the need for accountability, are also involved in the UTR committee.
MAIN PHOTO: CNA