Football World Cup

Look Back 2019: Lions to roar for Goal 2034?

Singapore’s national football team sing the national anthem ahead of their Southeast Asian Games match against Laos in the Philippines on Nov 26, 2019.
Singapore’s national football team sing the national anthem ahead of their Southeast Asian Games match against Laos in the Philippines on Nov 26, 2019.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Singapore's goal of qualifying for the 2034 World Cup got the fraternity, and many local fans, talking in August when the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) first revealed its ambitious target.

While sceptics scoffed at the news, citing the failed Goal 2010 project, FAS vice-president Edwin Tong called it a "realistic" goal for the Lions, citing the 15-year pathway and the expanded 48-team format from the 2026 World Cup and beyond, which would see the number of Asian places increased to eight.

Tong told The Straits Times that qualifying for the world's biggest football tournament would "give the country a lift".

He said: "It's not easy, but if you don't try, you'll never get anywhere. So we set ourselves a target, we try to lift everyone and push everyone behind it."

The FAS also pointed out that the Lions stand a better chance of success in 2034, as compared to the botched Goal 2010 project, as the local landscape has changed.

While the project then was solely driven by the FAS, Goal 2034 has generated a lot of interest from the football fraternity, and other stakeholders such as the Singapore National Olympic Council, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and Sport Singapore, claimed the sport's local governing body.

While the blueprint has not been unveiled, one of its building blocks is to develop a wide base of football-playing children aged six to 12 and increase the current pool by fourfold to 10,000. The FAS also wants to raise coaching levels and increase the number of players in its elite pipeline.

In a separate development, the 10 Asean nations agreed in October to establish a technical working group, led by Thailand, to look into the feasibility of a joint bid to host the 2034 World Cup. The working group will include four core members from Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, and other Asean members are welcome to join the group.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2019, with the headline 'Lions to roar for Goal 2034?'. Print Edition | Subscribe