• Wed. Nov 29th, 2023

Out in 2015, 2017, 2019, 2022, 2023. It’s not a bad thing to say we are rubbish, says former international R Sasikumar.

May 16, 2023

Former Singapore national players have taken aim at the Football Association of Singapore after the most recent exit from the men’s football competition at the Southeast Asian Games.

“It is not a bad thing to say we are rubbish,” former national defender R Sasikumar, a 1998 Tiger Cup winner, told The Straits Times.

“To solve the problem, you first have to recognise it. 

“To fix this, we have to not take small measures but make drastic changes.”

Sasikumar was also a member of the 1997 SEA Games side which made the semi-finals but lost out on a bronze after losing 2-1 to Indonesia. 

The former Geylang International, SAFFC, Home United, Tampines Rovers and Jurong FC defender also appeared to rip into Young Lions coach Philippe Aw, and said, “If you are not up to it, step aside and hand the baton to someone with passion, domain expertise, knowledge and energy. 

“Football is an industry now… If we have no culture and no industry, how can we expect our football to thrive?”

Sasikumar is also a current member of the Unleash The Roar! committee. 

Sasikumar aside, Geylang International coach Mohd Noor Ali also took offence to Aw’s handling of the defeats and his post-match comments.


He said, “Losing is OK, but the way we lost is not OK. 

“You (Aw) cannot be taking the job and then saying things like that. 

“Why take the team then? Moreover, he was also part of the system 10 years ago.

“Philippe is a friend and whatever he has said is true. 

But don’t go into a competition with half the battle lost because you publicly suggest the team are not good enough and the players can read about it in the media.”


Once every two years, after the Young Lions fail at the SEA Games, the debate would start about whether the Young Lions should remain in the Singapore Premier League. 

And it is no different this year. 

Sasikumar, for one, is firmly against the Young Lions continuing in the SPL. 

“The statistics don’t lie,” he said. 

“Losing is normalised for them, so how are we creating winners with the Young Lions? 

“The FAS probably spends $2 million a year on the Young Lions. 

“How many players can we keep in Europe for that money?”

However, former national goalkeeper Yakob Hashim had a different opinion and said the Young Lions should remain with the SPL.

“Get young foreign talent whom you can groom and naturalise later – like what Home United did with Song Ui-young – and form a strong Young Lions team that can compete for the title,” he told the Straits Times. 


“When you have 23 players in the Young Lions, you are also possibly opening up 23 slots for other young players for the clubs at senior level. 

“Disbanding the Young Lions would at least halve this pool.”

Perhaps the best way to figure out whether the Young Lions should stay or be disbanded would be to head back to 2003 when the Young Lions were brought into the S-League, and read its objectives, and then see if those objectives are still relevant today. 


Yakob, a former council member when former President and the late Lim Kia Tong’s team was elected to run the FAS in 2017, also took an adversarial position on the current leadership of the football body. 

He felt that the current leadership has “let us down so many times.”

“If we have the same people there, we have no chance to succeed”, and called for the entire leadership team and the General Secretary to step down from their positions.