Get basics right for local football

There have been various reports on how our Lions have fallen in the AFF Suzuki Cup tournament ("2 slips and they're out"; Nov 26, and "A Lion's share of problems for S'pore"; Nov 27).

But what many of these reports do not say is that the years of poor national team performance, namely from 2014 onwards, neatly coincide with the period in which the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) de-emphasised the S-League and supported re-entry into the Malaysia Cup competition.

In the years of success in AFF Suzuki tournaments, we had the S-League (despite dwindling spectator numbers) as a breeding ground for footballing talent.

The snub by the FAS on the S-League led to a drop in the quality of players moving upstream to the national team, and foreign teams winning trophies in local tournaments.

It is not only the national team that has performed poorly. Club teams have also failed to do well in regional competitions such as the Asian Football Confederation Cup.

We need to first ensure that we have a pool of good players for the national team before we talk about engaging good coaches or having the right tactics.

Singapore needs a solid footballing infrastructure that motivates young players, inspires them to want to play quality football, and provides rewarding careers for them as professional footballers.

We need to first ensure that we have a pool of good players for the national team before we talk about engaging good coaches or having the right tactics.

All it takes is a good look at the Thai football league to understand why we fail.

Liew Eng Leng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2016, with the headline 'Get basics right for local football'. Print Edition | Subscribe