No S-League break during Cup qualifiers

While S-League players like Amirul Adli will be released for the Lions' games against Japan and Syria, the local clubs will also be involved in matches as the league clears a backlog created by the recent haze.
While S-League players like Amirul Adli will be released for the Lions' games against Japan and Syria, the local clubs will also be involved in matches as the league clears a backlog created by the recent haze.TNP FILE PHOTO

With football's world governing body Fifa ruling that domestic clubs should release their players called up for international duty during designated dates, S-League fixtures will be contested even as the Lions prepare for crucial World Cup qualifiers.

The recent haze has caused a fixture pile-up with 11 matches being rescheduled in a bid to clear the backlog before the season finishes on Nov 21.

Tampines Rovers are set to play Albirex Niigata next Friday, a day after the Lions take on mighty Japan in a World Cup qualifier at the National Stadium.

Home United will take on Courts Young Lions two days before Singapore host Syria on Nov 17.

Yesterday, the S-League played down any potential club-versus-country conflict, saying the revised fixtures were finalised after consulting the respective clubs and the national team.

A spokesman for the S-League added: "We are also pleased to note that all clubs involved in releasing players for the upcoming Fifa World Cup/AFC Asian Cup qualifying matches against Japan and Syria have agreed to release their national players for the entire duration of the upcoming Fifa international break.

"We wish to take this opportunity to thank all club chairmen and their management for releasing their players for national duty."

Under Fifa rules, clubs are obliged to release their players "for all international windows listed in the international match calendar".

Among the S-League players called up for the upcoming international matches are Tampines left-back Shaiful Esah, Home midfielder Yasir Hanapi and the Courts Young Lions duo of defender Amirul Adli and midfielder M. Anumanthan.

While Japan released their squad list yesterday, calling up top guns Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund), Keisuke Honda (AC Milan) and Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City) for the Kallang showdown, Lions coach Bernd Stange has yet to reveal his list.

With both domestic and international games being played in tandem for the next two weeks, Tampines coach V. Sundramoorthy, who is also the national assistant coach, will have some juggling to do.

The Straits Times understands that the Stags will train in the morning to enable Sundram to oversee his charges.

He will then return to the Lions who typically train in the evening.

The former Singapore international, known for his expertise in organising defences, will also be released to coach the Stags for the Nov 13 clash against Albirex.

His tactical input will be one of the keys to Singapore's hopes of repeating the 0-0 draw against the Samurai Blue in Saitama in June.

Tampines are still in the hunt for the title. They are fourth in the table with 41 points, five behind leaders Brunei DPMM but having played one match fewer.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 06, 2015, with the headline 'No S-League break during Cup qualifiers'. Print Edition | Subscribe