Officials, players unclear about S'pore football's course

The Young Lions' dismal showing at last month's SEA Games topped the agenda in a two-hour-long meeting among the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) bigwigs at Jalan Besar Stadium yesterday.

Its executive committee discussed, among other things, coach Aide Iskandar's report into what led to Singapore's shock group-stage exit at the biennial showpiece, which sparked his immediate resignation.

The committee is headed by FAS president Zainudin Nordin. The FAS Council, its legislative body, will convene next week.

Also on the table yesterday was Aide's falling out with national coach Bernd Stange, which saw them trade barbs in the media over tactics and player selection.

Sport Singapore chief executive Lim Teck Yin had said that a silver lining from the Games outing was that "the coaches are now speaking up".

However, the duo could still face disciplinary action for going public before the FAS had completed its Games review.

It all amounts to what is a troubling time for Singapore football.

With the Asean Super League set to kick off in August next year, LionsXII players and coach Fandi Ahmad are unclear whether they will represent the country in the new competition, remain in the Malaysian Super League or be disbanded.

Mystery also surrounds the S-League, whose 20th season has been beset by negative publicity and falling attendances.

Clubs are worried that the competition could, as rumoured, revert to a semi-professional format in a bid to inject youth talent and spark interest from the community.

"I hope FAS takes into account the livelihoods of existing players, coaches and staff before making any major decisions - we are all very concerned," said Albirex Niigata general manager Koh Mui Tee.

League stalwart Aleksandar Duric, now an assistant coach at Tampines Rovers, noted: "If you want the crowds to return, going semi-professional is a step backwards because playing standards will undoubtedly drop."

The Straits Times understands that local teams have been told by FAS not to make any new signings for next season until details of the revamp have been firmed up.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2015, with the headline 'Officials, players unclear about S'pore football's course'. Print Edition | Subscribe