The image used in the heading for this story goes back a long way – all the way to 1990.
But it is a case of history repeating itself over and over again when it comes to the Lion City Cup.
But football fans, here’s the good news.
The Lion City Cup will return after a seven-year absence, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said in a statement on 9 August.
But here’s the bad news.
While Singapore’s National Development Centre U15 side will be representing the hosts, the other teams which are confirmed for the event are club sides from Malaysia (Selangor FC), Indonesia (Borneo FC Samarinda) and Thailand (BG Pathum).
Here are the key questions which would need answering.
Why is a national youth team facing off against club sides from the region?
Are we that bad that we have to match up against club sides as opposed to challenging against national youth sides from the region?
What is the value in having Singapore’s national youth sides play against club sides from the region?
In 2015, the last time the Lion City Cup was held in Singapore, the invited sides for the tournament were clubs which Singaporean fans recognised – Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.
Tottenham were the eventual winners that year.
SWITCHING THE LION CITY CUP ON AND OFF
The Lion City Cup was first introduced in 1977, and the tournament was aimed at nurturing and developing youth footballing talents in Singapore.
When the tournament was first started in 1977, it first featured youth teams from Malaysian state sides, given that there was keen interest in the Malaysia League and Cup competitions then.
That year, a young Fandi Ahmad who was vice-captain, who helped Singapore emerge as champions after thrashing Pahang 5-0, in the finals played on 18 December 1977 at the National Stadium.
Subsequently, the tournament featured national youth teams across Asia, like Australia, Saudi Arabia and Iraq among others.
While the tournament was a regular annual affair from 1977 to 1982, the competition was discontinued from 1983 to 1989.
It was brought back to life in 1990 and was an annual affair from that year to 2001, and then it went on a hiatus again for two years.
In 2004, it came back to life for three years and then was not held in 2007.
In 2008, Thailand beat the United Arab Emirates in the final and the event was scrapped for another two years.
Then another hattrick of competitions from 2011 to 2013, before being canned in 2014.
Then came the 2015 event and the Lion City Cup then went dead for a full seven years.
WHAT THE FAS NOW SAYS
In its statement, the FAS Acting President Bernard Tan said, “The Lion City Cup is a crucial pillar for youth development plans under Unleash The Roar! national football project.
“In addition to sending our best young players overseas for training stints and competitions, it is important to also host tournaments like this in Singapore to pit ourselves against some of the best youth teams, and for local fans to get behind our young footballers.”
So if the Lion City Cup is such a crucial pillar for youth development, and it is so important to host youth tournaments such as these, then why was this historic event not hosted since 2015?
Shouldn’t the national football body explain what happened, and why the sudden awakening?
Also, will this event now be an annual affair?
For this year’s competition, the U15s will be led by Angel Toledano, who has led the Singapore U16 Men’s Team in last year’s Asian Football Confederation U17 Asian Cup Qualifiers and Asean Football Federation U16 Boys Championship.
MAIN PHOTO: NEWSPAPERS.SG
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