• Thu. Oct 5th, 2023

Singapore is the only Southeast Asian nation not participating at the AFF U23 championships. What a shame.

May 29, 2023

Singapore is the only Southeast Asian nation which will not be participating in the ASEAN Football Federation’s U23 championship which is scheduled to be held from 17 to 26 August 2023 in Thailand.


Even countries like Brunei, Timor-Leste and Laos will be taking part in the championships which will act as a precursor to the Asian Football Confederation U23 qualifiers and the Asian Games in Hangzhou, both to be held from September to October. 

The draw was held on 29 May in Bangkok. 

In an interview with Mothership, the Acting President of the Football Association of Singapore Bernard Tan had said that Singapore was pulled out of the tournament at the end of April, even before the disastrous Southeast Asian Games.

“The draw for AFF is going to take place at the end of this month for an August tournament, we have just asked the AFF to leave us out of the draw. 

“I think that’s the correct thing to do [to have a breather],” Tan told Mothership in an interview published on 24 May.

But coaches TMSG spoke to felt that it was an opportunity lost for Singapore’s youngsters. 

If the Young Lions are not up to mark, shouldn’t Singapore have sent the next batch of players for the tournament, like the U19 or U20s? 


Or perhaps shouldn’t Singapore be sending a team of players who were involved at the SEA Games but who did not have much playing time, coupled with players from the next rung, to prepare them for future competitions? 

Why did the Football Association of Singapore pull the team out of competitions knowing that it is at such competitions where players can get International playing time?

Competitions like the AFF U23 championships will not need an approval from the Singapore National Olympic Council for participation, which only provides approvals for the Southeast Asian Games and Asian Games, when it comes to football.

Countries will have to qualify for the Olympics, while there isn’t any football competition at the Commonwealth Games.

Pulling out is a knee jerk reaction which makes to look like a way of pacifying public sentiment, which does not in any way help the players do better.

“Competitions like these would have been paramount to their development,” said a senior Singaporean coach who spoke to TMSG on condition of anonymity.

At the AFF U23 tournament, the 10 participating teams have been divided into three groups. 

Hosts Thailand are in Group A  alongside Cambodia, Brunei Darussalam and Myanmar, while defending champions Vietnam will take on Philippines and Laos in Group C. 

Group B is made up by Timor-Leste, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The top team of each group will progress to the semi-finals alongside the best runner-up from the Group Stage, while the winners from the single leg semi-finals will compete in the final on 26 August 2023.

Without Singapore, that is., which is a crying shame.

MAIN PHOTO: AFF U23 Championships

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