Young Singapore footballers not good enough
In technique, drive and fitness, Singapore's youngsters some way off, says Tardy
SINGAPORE U-15 2
SINGAPORE U-16 3
Robin Chitrakar's national Under-16s dragged themselves back from the dead in Friday's Lion City Cup semi-final against Liverpool.
They came back from three goals down in that game, pushing the match into a penalty shoot-out, which they lost.
They had to dig deep again yesterday, coming back to win 3-2 after going down twice to beat their U-15 juniors in the play-off for third place at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Despite the U-16s' show of character and the U-15s' sturdy opening to the game, the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) national youth teams head coach, Richard Tardy, believes there is so much to do to get Singapore's young footballers up to mark.
"A lot of people are happy with that (3-3) draw with Liverpool, but I would say no... Our level is not good enough," said the Frenchman, addressing the media yesterday.
"Honestly, we need to progress a lot more. We need better technique, better mentality, and we need to change things in our training sessions, and help our coaches improve."
Tardy was recently in Cambodia to take in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) U-16 Championship (July 27 to Aug 9), where the Singapore side managed only a solitary win as they were booted out at the group stage.
The team lost 8-1 to Australia and fell 3-1 to Myanmar.
Regional powerhouses Thailand beat Myanmar to win the tournament, with Australia finishing third after beating Laos.
Thailand are a nation on the rise in football and the performances of the likes of Myanmar, Laos and even Cambodia in recent youth tournaments suggest one-time minnows are making a serious effort to improve.
"Thailand are at a very good level and we need to get there," said Tardy, who was appointed to his role by the FAS on July 21.
He believes that V. Selvaraj's U-15s, who will play in the Asian Football Confederation U-16 qualifiers which Singapore will host from Sept 2 to 6, will face a tough time to qualify out of a group that includes Thailand, Cambodia and North Korea.
FIVE AREAS TO IMPROVE
"Honestly, it will be very difficult. I know that our team will want to prove something, but we will need a little luck to qualify and the boys must give more than 100 per cent," said the 65-year-old.
Tardy pointed to five main areas that need to be fixed: technique, physicality, fitness, scouting and coaching ability. He also took issue with the mental approach of youngsters.
"Some of our young players are in their comfort zone and they are surprised when they face strong opponents," said Tardy, pointing to the U-16s' shoddy first-half performance that saw them go 3-0 down to Liverpool on Friday.
"I was very angry with them, losing to a team of younger players (Liverpool fielded a U-15 side that included several 14-year-olds), and I went in at half-time to talk with them.
"Some players are happy to play, but don't give 100 per cent. When you play in the colours of your country you can't give 100 per cent, you must give 120... Even in training," he said.
Changes are already being considered for implementation, according to Tardy.
"These are my first impressions after one month and we must do something before next season, especially in training sessions," he said.
"Tournaments like the Lion City Cup are important... We need more exposure like this, against Japan, Australia, maybe Qatar, United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia - it's very important for the future of the country."
I come from Europe where the coaching courses are very strong and very difficult, and I was also in Africa, where the level of courses are not very high, like here. But we will work a lot with the coaches here.
— FAS national youth teams head coach Richard Tardy, who says it is critical for local coaches to improve