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The city-state has lofty ambitions…
“And it is for that reason we have arranged for matches against quality teams like the Brazil Olympic team, Australia, China, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Korea and Liverpool as further exposure for the national team.”
Zainudin Nordin, the president of the FA of Singapore (FAS) feels that Singapore will need at least five years to be among the top ten footballing countries in Asia.
He made the statement following the island republic’s feat of almost making it into the 2011 Asian Cup finals but for a lapse in their last qualifying match against Jordan earlier this month.
The Lions needed just a draw to qualify but instead fell to a 2-1 defeat.
“Football in Singapore is on the right path and we are heading in the right direction,” said Zainuddin, who is also the Mayor of CDC Central Singapore.
“For the last five years, the national team has made remarkable progress where they have won the ASEAN Championship crown twice and also for the first time, made the third round of the World Cup qualifiers.
“The Under-23 squad also won the bronze at the SEA Games last year in Laos which in itself is an achievement when we consider that we had sent a very young team with an average age of just 19.8 years.”
The last time Singapore made the final rounds of the Asian Cup was back in 1984 when they were hosts.
Zainudin had taken over the FAS presidency from Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee just over a year ago.
“The FAS have formulated a Strategic Planning programme but it cannot be initiated in a hurry and it will take time for it to be successful – maybe five years,” said Zainudin.
”The project is not mine, it belongs to everyone. We have strategized a good system from the 16-year-olds to the 23-year-olds.
”The first two years is do well at the ASEAN level and win championships. Level two would be to continue doing well at the ASEAN level and also to be competitive at the Asian level.
The Strategic Planning aims to put Singapore as among the top ten football countries in Asia.
“We have identified the gaps between us and the Asian giants like Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Australia,” added Zainuddin.