The new Football Association of Singapore (FAS) council received a boost yesterday as long-standing sponsor RHB pledged its support for local football with a three-year, $1.5 million contract.
The Malaysian banking group, title sponsors of the Singapore Cup since 2005, has extended their partnership until 2019. It is the first major commercial deal since the new FAS leadership took office.
RHB Bank Singapore chief executive and country head Mike Chan said: "I think we are happy that the incumbent team has won. It means continuity and as long as there is continuity we will continue to sponsor."
The 15-member FAS council is headed by president Lim Kia Tong, a former FAS vice-president. He beat Hougang United chairman Bill Ng's slate at last month's election, which took place amid an ongoing police investigation and raised questions about governance within the association.
New council member Michael Foo was confident the vote of confidence from RHB would influence other companies and called it a mutually beneficial relationship.
He said: "We hope that more corporations will follow the lead of RHB Singapore and step forward to partner with us to raise the standards of Singapore football."
The draw for the preliminary round of the 20th edition of the Singapore Cup was held yesterday at the Ocean Financial Centre near Raffles Place. It threw up some interesting ties.
The four unseeded S-League clubs will face foreign teams from Cambodia and the Philippines in the opening stage, scheduled from May 29 to June 4.
Balestier Khalsa, 2014 Singapore Cup winners, face Nagaworld of Cambodia while reigning Cambodian league winners Boeungket Angkor take on Warriors FC.
Geylang International and Hougang have drawn Philippine sides Global Cebu and Ceres Negros respectively.
Despite the tough draw, Warriors' left-back Zulfadli Zainal was bullish about his team's chances of adding to their four Cup wins.
"All of us are looking forward to the strong challenge. They (Boeungket) may be strong in their country but now it is a different ball game altogether and we will do our best to win the Cup," he said.
Home United, Tampines Rovers, Brunei DPMM and defending champions Albirex Niigata await in the quarter-finals.
Albirex, unbeaten this season in the S-League and atop the standings, are seeking to become the first club to win three straight Cups but coach Kazuaki Yoshinaga played down their tags as favourites.
He said: "They are all very strong teams. We have played against Ceres Negros before and they are not a pushover. We look forward to taking them on."