Good coach, marketing are what local football needs

The near full-house crowd at the National Stadium for the International Champions Cup match between Chelsea and Bayern Munich proved two things (Don't sing Blues so soon; July 26).

One, Singaporeans are still in love with the beautiful game despite the disastrous results of the national team, which is now ranked 169th in the world.

Two, the strong turnout of more than 48,000 fans on a weekday clearly indicates the repeated failures of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to attract fans to support the Lions.

Since the Brazil v Japan match in October 2014, which was attended by a full-house crowd at the National Stadium, no other international football matches played at the venue in the past three years attracted more than 30,000 fans.

The poorly attended games all involved the Singapore national team.

The combination of national coach V. Sundram Moorthy's ultra-defensive and boring tactical plans and the apparent lack of marketing know-how by the FAS have led to fans staying away from the National Stadium at a time when supporters in other countries, including Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, show up in full force to support their national teams.

On Tuesday, fans at the Chelsea v Bayern match were entertained and happy with plenty of goals, individual skills and combination play - all key elements which Sundram could never bring out in the Singapore Lions.

More needs to be done, including creative and consistent efforts to promote the sport and players.

Perhaps, Sport Singapore or other national sports associations, such as those for swimming and table tennis, which have been successful in bringing fans together, can support and train the FAS administrators. It is time the FAS sought assistance to promote its sport.

Of course, it is also important that the Lions are coached by a respectable tactician.

It is clear that only attacking football and sound marketing plans will attract fans.

Chan Siang Ming

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2017, with the headline 'Good coach, marketing are what local football needs'. Print Edition | Subscribe