FAS not at their best recently
Aide Iskandar's Courts Young Lions have been busy going through drills, tactical formations and fitness work every day even though they've been idle in the Great Eastern Yeo's S.League since a 1-0 loss to Tampines Rovers on March 5.
The Singapore Under-23s are building towards the South-east Asia (SEA) Games here in June, where a first football gold medal is the target.
Coach Aide and his team know the work done before the mission is critical to a positive outcome at the end.
Meanwhile, the Singapore Under-22s will come together on Friday for their first training session since March 9. They play a friendly against the Cambodia national team two days later (March 22), fly off to Laos on March 25 and open their qualifying campaign for the Asian Football Confederation U-23 Championship against the hosts on March 27.
Richard Bok's men have a good chance to make the Finals next January in Qatar and, if they do pull it off, it will be a big step forward in the development of the young team.
Which makes the decision for the squad to come together so late strange, and hardly ideal.
Recent developments clearly indicate the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) needs to step it up.
There was much talk last week that Bok, 45, the former coach of S.League giants SAFFC (now Warriors), had been relieved of his duties by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) after they failed to fire in previous assignments.
Apparently, Aide was approached to take over the U-22s but rejected it, and Bok was reinstated.
Maybe, all the speculation disrupted the initial plan.
But many closely connected to the situation insist Bok had been told to go, and if so, the fact that he was inserted back into the role is simply bizarre.
In response to The New Paper's queries on the issue (see page S16), the FAS were hardly emphatic in their backing of Bok.
He is a proud man, branded as the most successful coach in the S.League and will want to prove all doubters wrong and get his team to the AFC Championship, but this is a right old mess.
The FAS have fluffed their lines here, football chief Zainudin Nordin and his team have also been slow to name the country's new technical director, which is a critical appointment in our hope to bring the nation's No. 1 sport to the next level.
The FAS said at their Annual General Meeting last September that they would name the new technical director in the first quarter of 2015, yet, still, we have not found out who the top-class coach is.
While care and time are required to appoint the right person who can succeed in the Singapore climate, the lack of a name, and even news of any development by the FAS, leaves much to be desired.
On top of all this comes news that the Singapore national team will gather on Sunday to prepare for two friendly matches, away to Thailand on March 26, followed by a home tie against Guam four days later.
I remember national coach Bernd Stange claiming the Lions had to spar against much better quality opposition when he was first introduced at the Jalan Besar Stadium two years ago, he suggested he had the contacts to make the necessary arrangements and yet, the likes of Papua New Guinea, Laos, Macau, Hong Kong, Cambodia and now Guam are the kinds of friendly contests lined up for Shahril Ishak and Co.
It hardly sets the pulses racing, both for the players and, crucially, the fans.
While the team's legion of supporters wait for MP & Silva to actually set up formidable opposition to test the Lions, we can only hope Bok's U-22s overcome the odds that have inadvertently cropped up, and book their passage to Qatar.