No action for sub bungle
Football organisers say result stands even though SAJC made 'extra' substitution
An administrative error during an 'A' Division football match last week has thrown the spotlight on the schools competition.
Saint Andrew's Junior College (SAJC) beat Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) 2-1 in a Group A preliminary match last Tuesday.
The result saw SAJC qualify as one of the eight quarter-finalists in the competition, at the expense of HCI.
But the Saints made five substitutions during the game, one more than the permitted four according to the rules set.
The bungle was somehow not noticed by the referee and his two assistants, who were appointed by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
HCI lodged an appeal after the game to 'A' Division football convenor Jonathan Ram, which eventually proved unsuccessful.
When The New Paper met Millenia Institute (MI) head of department for PE and sports Ram yesterday, he refused to comment on the matter.
But MI's principal, Tan Wan Yu, replied to an e-mail query TNP had sent Ram on Tuesday evening.
She said: "During the football match between HCI and SAJC... the latter made an additional substitution which was accepted by the referee.
"The matter was raised with the Convenors after the match.
"The Convenors decided to abide by the referee's decision after much deliberation and to allow for the score to stand.
"In addition, the FAS was also alerted to the matter. Both schools have been informed of the outcome and have accepted the Convenors' decision."
Similar cases in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League were dealt with very differently.
In two recent cases involving teams in the local professional league fielding ineligible players, the sides that broke the rules paid the price by having the match awarded to their opponents.
In March last year, the Courts Young Lions forfeited their first four results after they fielded full-time National Servicemen who had not been cleared to play.
Their three games - against Hougang United, Tampines Rovers, Brunei DPMM and Balestier Khalsa - ended up 3-0 in favour of their opponents.
And in July, Tampines Rovers saw their 1-0 win over Harimau Muda B overturned as they fielded new signing Ruzaini Zainal as a substitute.
Ruzaini had picked up four yellow cards - three with previous team Warriors FC - and had to serve a one-game suspension. Harimau Muda were awarded a 3-0 win.
A source, who was present at the HCI-SAJC game and spoke on condition of anonymity, felt the incident could set an unwanted precedent in school football competitions.
"Whether SAJC made the fifth substitution knowingly or not, the bottom line is that they broke a rule," he said.
"The next time something like this happens, the offending school can simply say they made an honest mistake and expect to get away scot-free.
"The Singapore School Sports Council and the football convenor must send a strong message to the student-athletes that it is important to abide by the rules.
"They should overturn the result, or at least make sure there is a rematch between HCI and SAJC."