SINGAPORE: The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) on Friday (Jul 7) unveiled 10 recommendations to improve the country’s performance at future Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, including giving young players more game time in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) and providing the men’s under-23 and under-22 sides with access to the resources of the full-fledged national “A” team.
The proposals were put forth following the performance of Singapore’s under-22 team at this year’s SEA Games in Cambodia.
The Young Lions suffered a 7-0 mauling by Malaysia in their final group game in May, making it Singapore’s heaviest defeat at the Games since the competition became an age-group affair in 2001.
They had already been knocked out from the group stages for the fifth straight time, following a goalless draw against Laos a few days prior.
The recommendations were formulated based on internal reports submitted by FAS departments after the tournament, “objective” analytics, “subjective” feedback gathered by a SEA Games review committee which interviewed personnel involved in the Games, and discussions with individuals including from other countries’ football associations, said FAS in a press statement.
UNDER-22 AND UNDER-23 MOVES
One recommendation was to move the men’s under-23 and under-22 (U23/22) sides under the national team, and headed by the national head coach.
“The men’s national team will henceforth be accountable for both the performance of the A and U23/22 team and in charge of securing and using all available resources in support of the U23/22 side during major tournaments,” said FAS.
This “elevates the importance” of the U23/22 squad, ensures that national team resources are available to support the younger footballers and “accelerates” their transition to the A team.
SEA GAMES AS TWO-YEAR PROJECT
Another recommendation proposed that FAS approach the SEA Games as a two-year project to allow the coach and team to develop over a longer period.
This timespan would, among others, set up the opportunity to blood younger players and let them clock experience in the Singapore Premier League, along with eight to 10 “high tempo, high-intensity” international matches in that duration.
“The SEA Games coach, who should also be the coach of the Young Lions, will be appointed for the duration of this project. This will enable the coach to plan long-term,” said FAS.
The review committee found that players from the SEA Games squad consistently gave feedback that they were “not prepared for the high tempo” at the Games.
Many also said the tournament was played at an intensity “beyond that of the” SPL.
This makes international match minutes even more important, said FAS.
It blamed the lack of opportunities for the latest batch of players on COVID-19, saying the pandemic “possibly” affected Singapore more than other countries which could play high-tempo and high-intensity football within their borders.
MORE GAME TIME
One recommendation was for a relook at Singapore Premier League rules, to allow for an increase in playing time for key U23/22 players.
“The key focus is on the U23/22 national team’s long list of players and to ensure that they get enough league match experience at the highest level, especially closer to the tournament,” said FAS.
One consideration would be “freeing up the transfer window” for U23 players.
FAS noted that only eight players in the SEA Games squad were playing regularly in the 2023 SPL season, with over 50 per cent of the minutes. The majority of the squad only started regularly playing in the SPL this year, with most not having played a full season.
“The lack of game time possibly affected the ability of players, especially those not exposed to sufficient minutes, to cope with the tempo of the tournament, where a game is played every two to three days over the course of two days,” it added.
Source : CNA