Friday, December 02, 2011
It’s been another exciting season in the SLeague with the title race not being decided until the last game of the season. The penultimate game between Home United and Tampines Rovers saw the Stags win 1-0; they went into their last game knowing three points would be enough. They won 5-0 to secure their first title in six years.
While the Stags enjoy that champion feeling and look ahead to the new season, the SLeague could well be looking very different. For a start, finally, the league is going to increase in size, from 12 to 14. Two new teams, but both foreign. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Yishun Super Reds and Sembawang Rangers have been talked about as new teams in the league but each bid seems to have skeletons in the closet. And bearing in mind how Tanjong Pagar have fared this last season perhaps the gene pool just isn’t there for another Singaporean team?
The Jaguars have a fine history in Singapore football but when they reformed this year there policy was one of nurturing young players. A policy shared by Young Lions and Woodlands Wellington. Any more teams looking to develop young players is gonna hit a brick wall. In multi racial Singapore it’s mostly the ethnic Malays and Indians who play football professionally even though the Chinese dominate the population. There just ain’t that much talent out there.
DPMM are of course a familiar face. They entered the league in 2009 and became the first foreign team to win a trophy, picking up the League Cup in that year. With large, passionate crowds at their home stadium, regularly over 6,000, they brought a vitality and exuberance to the staid old league.
However FIFA flexed their muscles and kicked them out of world football meaning they also had to leave the SLeague before the end of the season.
Singapore and Malaysia signed an agreement earlier in the year which will see both country enter a team in the other’s league. The Malaysians will send their Harimau Muda to join the SLeague; which means we could see a Singapore football match featuring teams from Brunei and Malaysia take place outside Singapore.
The Harimau Muda have been the launch pad for the Malaysian team that has gone on to win successive SEA Games and the ASEAN Cup and are bound to bring more excitement and quality to the league.
In return Singapore have set up a new team, Singapore Lions, to compete in the Malaysian competitions. They will go straight into the top flight Super League across the causeway in a move that should silence the Fandi/Malaysia Cup whiners who regularly fill papers and forums about how wonderful things were back in them days when Singapore regularly competed in Malaysia.
Will the old supporters turn up to support the Lions as the FA tries to rekindle interest in its product? Officials certainly hope so and are talking about expanding the Jalan Besar Stadium to cater for the extra demand.
For all the negativity that surrounds the way the game is run in the island state these are without doubt good moves. Hopefully they can be marketed correctly to get the bums on seats the players and the clubs deserve.