Why It Matters

Time for FAS to get act together

Has Singapore football reached rock bottom? The thud has not been heard yet, but the evidence is pointing to a tailspin.

When the national team lost 0-3 to Bahrain in last Tuesday's Asian Cup qualifier, it marked more than a year since their last win.

Under coach V. Sundram Moorthy, the statistics make for uncomfortable reading: Just two wins in 21 games, no competitive victory, only 11 goals scored and never more than one a game. Singapore's world ranking is also at an all-time low of 173.

With the Lions not in competitive action until the Asian Cup dead rubber against Chinese Taipei next March, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) must decide if it wants to keep faith with Sundram or make bold moves to rebuild an ageing team.

The Republic's age-group teams have not fared any better. The latest embarrassment came two weeks ago, when the Under-18s had three players sent off and lost 2-4 to Mongolia in an Asian Football Confederation U-19 Championship qualifier.

Even the amateur scene is tainted, as last week's National Football League game between Yishun Sentek Mariners and Singapore Armed Forces Sports Association descended into a mass brawl.

It is almost seven months since the new FAS council was elected on April 29. At its annual congress last Thursday, it rolled out plans to increase participation in schools and boost the talent pool.

But the FAS has had a tendency to launch big plans with a big bang - only to see them fizzle out.

The Strategic Plan was launched in 2010, but it has fallen way short of its target of making Singapore a top-10 team in Asia. It is currently 35th out of 47 nations on the continent.

It is high time for the FAS to get its act together.

With national sports agency Sport Singapore now managing its funding from the Tote Board, only good plans followed by solid execution will convince the gatekeeper to disburse money.

If the malaise continues, Singapore football will be a laughing stock and the FAS will inevitably become an acronym for Fail At Soccer.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2017, with the headline 'Time for FAS to get act together'. Print Edition | Subscribe