More aggression needed in local women's game: Singapore's Chris Yip-Au
Yip-Au, who played with Aussie club Monaro Panthers, says local players are pampered and lack aggression
The intensity of women's football in Singapore needs to be raised if the Lionesses are to do well abroad.
That's the opinion of Singapore forward Chris Yip-Au, who had a five-month stint with Australian club Monaro Panthers earlier this year.
Monaro, who are based in New South Wales, feature in the National Premier League (NPL) Capital Football, the highest level of competition in the Australian Capital Territory.
Yip-Au, 25, said: "Sometimes, when I'm aggressive and physical in Singapore, the referees are very (generous) in giving fouls. In Australia, they tell you to play on.
"I think that's something we're missing, the aggressiveness in competitions and, because of this, we suffer at international tournaments where the opponents are physical with us. We are too pampered here."
Yip-Au, whose playing stint with Monaro also came with a coaching role with their Under-13 team, acknowledged that she had to adapt quickly to the higher level of play.
Said the diminutive player, who also coaches the Singapore Under-16s: "I am small-sized, so when I played every game, I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. I had to start gymming to put on some mass to deal with the physicality of the game there."
Midfielder Suria Priya also had to adapt when she played for the Curtin University Football Club in Western Australia's State League Division One, a tier below the NPL.
"The opponents are much bigger, faster and everybody can play," said the 28-year-old, who is pursuing a physiotherapy degree at the university.
"In Singapore, we have teams of varying standards. So over there, every game is a challenge because they are skilful and physically better."
The duo, who made their international debuts three years ago, are part of the 23-member national squad who are in Chonburi, Thailand, for the Asean Football Federation Women's Championship, which kicks off tomorrow.
The Republic will face hosts Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and Timor Leste in Group A. They must finish in the top two to advance to the semi-finals.
National coach Melisa Ye, 35, said she hopes the Lionesses will progress as far as they can, adding: "To put it bluntly, to get our first win since 2004."
At the inaugural tournament in Vietnam that year, Singapore pipped Indonesia 1-0 through a late goal by midfielder Lim Shiya.
Since then, the Lionesses have made six appearances at the competition and lost all their games, except for a goalless draw with Indonesia last year.
Ye stressed their hunger for a win and listed their first match against Timor Leste tomorrow as their best chance.
The Lionesses, who are ranked 123rd in the Fifa rankings, then face the 39th-ranked Thailand, who won 8-0 in their last encounter three years ago.
They also have the odds stacked against them, with captain Angelyn Pang out due to a knee injury and several players unable to take leave from work.
Also, two of their players - first-choice goalkeeper Noor Kusumawati and striker Stephanie Dominguez - will end their tournament early, as they have to fly home for work and examinations respectively and miss two group-stage games.
Nonetheless, Ye stays positive, describing her young team - more than half of the squad are below 22 - as "highly competitive".
The team can also bank on Yip-Au and Suria, who have grown from their Australian stints and shared their knowledge with their teammates.
Ye, who turned out for Canberra FC in her playing days, said: "The intensities are higher there and they have more exposure to different style of plays.
"It adds a different dimension to their game and they're thinking a lot more than relying on their speed."
Suria, who will miss three weeks of school due to the competition, has urged her teammates to think positive.
She said: "We should always go into competitions without deciding the result beforehand. If you give a good-enough fight, the results may be different."