Malaysia Cup will reignite Singapore fans' interest in local football

I was flabbergasted to read Mr Ivan Goh's letter (S'pore football needs foreign element to thrive; July 8) and would like to add on to Mr Wong Horng Ginn's views (The '12th man' crucial in a football team; July 7).

Singapore, at one stage, was a footballing nation to be reckoned with and it did not have any foreign talent at all in its squad.

By and large, Singapore was then able to match its opponents in almost all departments, including flair, fluidity and finesse.

Be it at the 1984 AFC Asian Cup, SEA games, Malaysia Cup or other tournaments, Singapore could always count on players like K. Kannan, Golden Boot award winner in 1987 when he played for Kuala Lumpur; V. Sundram Moorthy, former FC Basel player; Fandi Ahmad, who struck twice against Inter Milan when he donned the colours of FC Groningen; and skipper T. Pathmanathan, who marshalled Singapore's defence with great aplomb. Therefore, there is no reason to have foreign elements in the Singapore football team for it to thrive.

Mr Wong's intentions to garner fan support for Singapore football are good and one of the ways to reignite interest is with the Malaysia Cup.

In 2012, Singapore's LionsXII participated in the Malaysia Super League and Malaysia Cup, and home games at Jalan Besar Stadium were easily packed with Singapore football fans.

And on occasions where LionsXII qualified for key matches like the Malaysia FA Cup final in 2015, Singapore fans easily occupied a third of the stadium's capacity.

But truth be told, since the inception of the S-League in 1996, interest in local clubs, not to mention dismal attendances at matches, leave much to be desired.

Hence, we should acknowledge that the way forward to address the declining support for Singapore football is to play to our strengths - with the Malaysia Cup.

Irwan Jamil

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2018, with the headline 'Malaysia Cup will reignite Singapore fans' interest in local football'. Print Edition | Subscribe