Saturday, November 22, 2014

Suzuki Cup 2014: Win or Lose, the League Suffers

Let's put it down on record first. We expect nothing less than at least a semi-final spot from our Lions. No matter what Mr Zainudin Nordin or Bernd Stange said about rebuilding a young team, the least we expect from the 4 times AFF Cup champion is a semi-final spot.

But the bigger issue is, how will this result affect the S.League? No matter how we look at it, the forecast is gloomy.

If the team wins the Suzuki cup, this would prove to be the perfect opportunity for Stange to denote the S.League. The President of the FAS would also take the chance to reinforce that the path taken thus far is correct, and that the 'developmental' squads are bearing fruits for Singapore football. The final straw on the camel's back for the S.League? 

If the team gets knocked out at the group stage, the biggest victim would also be the S.League. Following the 1812 incident (how many of you remember that?), in which Singapore was whacked 4-0 by Malaysia, the S.League was blamed. And yet again in 2010, after exiting the group stage of the AFF Cup with only 3 goals scored. The S.League was blamed. Players were 'fired' (and rehired for the WCQs in 2011). And in 2012, Singapore rejoined Malaysia league football with the LionsXII. 

The S.League has never been given its due credits. Singapore has never won a SEA games gold medal prior to 2001 when it is an open age event. The closest Fandi and Co. managed was silver. Since the formation of the S.League and the start of the AFF Cup (SEA games football is now an under-23 tournament), we have won it 4 times. And yet when the opportunity arises, the league is blamed. 

Well we wish the best for the Lions as they embark on a journey to what they are hoping to be a 5th championship at the ASEAN level. We are wondering if our short-sighted football development will come back and haunt us years later. The S.League is between a rock and a hard place, and only the fans can save it.