CDM Tan expects football post-mortem and doesn't rule out omission from future Games
CDM Tan calls for detailed analysis for football; doesn't rule out omission from future Games
Hairs stood on end, it was unavoidable.
The anthem was blasted over the airwaves, but music, so loud just a moment before, was completely drowned out by fervent voices.
This was surely one of the most stirring rendition of a national anthem heard at the SEA Games, its zeal bouncing off the dome of the National Stadium, turning electric as it hit the skin.
But this wasn't the Majulah Singapura, it was the the national anthem of Myanmar, Kaba Ma Kyei.
It wasn't Aide Iskandar and his national Under-23 boys whose hearts were overflowing with pride as they stood before their countrymen at Monday's men's football final.
But it should have been.
"Personally, I'm disappointed, but you can't take away the fact that they played their guts out," said Singapore's co-chef de mission to the Games, Tan Eng Liang, of the football team's failure to even qualify for the semi-finals of the tourney.
Speaking at a press conference to discuss the performance of the Republic's athletes at this Games, Tan, along with Singapore Sports Institute chief, Bob Gambardella, felt let down by the football team.
At a home Games where Team Singapore recorded their best-ever performance with 84 gold, 73 silver and 102 bronze medals for a Games-high total of 259, there were few disappointments.
This smashed the Republic's previous high of 50 golds, 40 silvers and 74 bronzes in 1993, the last time the Games was hosted here.
Not to mention the 747-strong contingent also broke 25 Games records, set 29 new national marks and achieved 74 personal bests.
"Out of 36 sports, only three have not contributed a medal - petanque, tennis and football. But, as long as they have tried their best. It doesn't mean that they have not contributed. unfortunately, the other countries are better," said Tan.
Singapore has never won the SEA Games gold medal in football, which became an Under-23 affair in 2001, despite the fact that the senior Lions are four-time Asean champions.
"We're all disappointed. This is our national game, and we'd like to see them play at the highest level and be competitive throughout," said Gambardella.
"In team sports, there's always an interesting dynamic."
Doubts have been cast over the dynamics within the football team, with The Straits Times reporting of infighting among the coaching staff and a lack of clarity on key objectives, as well as player disciplinary issues.
Both Gambardella and Tan called for change.
"I expect them to do a detailed analysis and come up with a detailed plan to bring them forward - if they want to improve," said veteran sports administrator and Olympian Tan, acknowledging that a lot of "tax payers' money" has been spent on preparing Aide's team in some two years prior to the Games.
"You hear a lot about development, about strategy... but I personally wish they will address these issues and bring us forward to the next step," said Tan.
"There's a lot of work to be done in the future... for us, there's no looking back... now it's about raising the bar. We have to be ready to meet the demands," added Gambardella.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has faced issues with earning the nod to go to the Asian Games in both 2010 and 2014, because of its failure to meet specified selection criteria.
And Tan warned that if it is repeated in the lead-up to future SEA Games, there is a possibility that the sport of football will not go.
"We are open and transparent, so if they want to go to next Asian Games or SEA Games, they have to give us their performances, prospects, and direction they are heading in," he said.
"Selection criteria mean that before nomination, they must play neighbouring countries and show results.
"If they choose not to play these games, or don't show results, chances are they will be turned down."
"This is our national game, and we’d like to see them play at the highest level and be competitive throughout"
- Singapore Sports Institute chief Bob Gambardella on the U-23 football team