Football

Coaches don't dare to blood strikers: Indra

  • Why do you think Singapore lack prolific strikers?

Indra: We have the talents. It's a matter of whether coaches dare to blood them.

There's always that pressure on clubs, especially the bigger ones, to do well. But in Singapore, there's no relegation, so I'm not sure why clubs don't take risks like they used to and give these players a chance.

At Home United, they have this young striker Nur Hizami Salim, who scored 26 goals in 30 Prime League matches. I really hope his coach Philippe Aw, who is now the first-team coach, will bring this boy through the ranks.

l What more can be done to promote the young players?

Instead of imposing an age restriction to encourage youth development, why not reduce the import quota from five to three instead? 

Teams can save money and sign a really good foreigner. More local players get to play and the talent pool grows. 

For all you know, more fans may come to support the local players.

  • What are your thoughts on the Courts Young Lions?

The FAS has to seriously consider whether the Courts Young Lions initiative has worked, and whether the objectives of creating the LionsXII and the Young Lions have been met.

Who have they got to learn from? There are no senior figures to show them the way, like how I had Kadir (Yahaya), Malek (Awab) and Fandi (Ahmad) to guide me when I was young.

These boys get comfortable because it looks like a sure road to the national team. The Young Lions have not been out of the bottom half of the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League for a long time. They have remained stagnant, and we still have not won a SEA Games gold.

  • What's your assessment of the S.League as it enters its 20th season?

What I am today is thanks to the S.League but, we have reached the point where we are all just hoping for the best.

It has stagnated. We haven't built on past successes or the national team's success in the Suzuki Cup.

Local clubs go in and out of the league, and there's no guarantee the foreign clubs will stay forever. There's just too much instability for fans and sponsors to want to support.

Both Hougang and Woodlands fans are upset their teams are merging. In the end, you could lose both sets of fans before you even attract new ones. You take away their identity and you are left with nothing.

The rivalry between teams is also no longer there because of the many changes.

At the end of the day, the money is just not there. If the average salary for the better footballers were $5,000 a month 10 years ago, it still is now. We used to be able to attract Thai national players here, but now, their first choice would be Thailand or Malaysia.

My suggestion would be to close the S.League and to start over again with a privatised model instead.

Team owners would obviously want their investments to do well so they would go all out to do what's best for their products instead of just making do with subsidies.

  • As a former national captain, and someone who has also worked with national coach Bernd Stange, what do you make of the Lions now?

In the Suzuki Cup, it was clear Bernd did not pick the best players available. Just at Home United, I wonder why Juma'at (Jantan), Yasir (Hanapi) and Izzdin (Shafiq) were not called up.

I was called up when Bernd was first appointed. He said he had many contacts and we would be playing against big teams to improve our rankings, but he didn't deliver.

He also may not have understood the significance of the Suzuki Cup. It remains our biggest tournament and "die-die" you have to at least reach the semi-finals.

It's unlikely that he was preparing for the SEA Games since only six players would be eligible next year. So, it was strange. Maybe it was too much of a culture shock.

To his defence, I think the way he wants Singapore to play is good and achievable. If Thailand can do it, why not us? The difference is, Thailand have been playing like this for many years, but we are trying to do so only after Bernd came.

So, for Bernd's way to work, it takes time. It's also important to get a coach whom the players are willing to die for.

Malaysia and Thailand reached the Suzuki Cup final with local coaches, Germany won the World Cup with a local coach, so why not give a Singaporean a chance?

V Sundramoorthy won the MSL with LionsXII, Fandi is also a good coach and so is Kadir. They know the culture, and they have the experience and the players' respect.

My suggestion would be to close the S.League and to start over again with a privatised model instead.

- Indra Sahdan Daud