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The Big Read: FAS’ remedy for what ails football - More of everything

Spectators watching S-League’s league cup match between Balestier Khalsa and Tampines Rovers last Friday. Photo: Jason Quah
Indonesia defeat team Singapore 1-0 to advance to the semi-finals. The defeat send Singapore out of the competition. Photo: Tristan Loh
(Left to right) FAS president Zainudin Nordin, Minister of Culture, Community & Youth Lawrence Wong, and founding partner of MP & Silva Andrea Radrizzani at a press conference at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Feb 2 2015. Photo: FAS
Spectators celebrate at the S-League league cup match between Balestier Khalsa and Tampines Rovers on June 26 2015. Photo: Jason Quah
Published: 12:09 AM, July 4, 2015
Updated: 2:15 PM, July 4, 2015
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SINGAPORE — When the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced the appointment of Mr Michel Sablon as its new technical director at the Jalan Besar Stadium in April, he was touted as one of the best in the world to help arrest the slump in Singapore football.

After all, the 67-year-old Belgian is widely credited for Belgium’s meteoric rise in world football in recent years.

Two months later on June 11, from the vantage point of the Jalan Besar Stadium’s hospitality suite, Mr Sablon saw the daunting challenges he faces in turning Singapore’s most popular sport around.

That evening, the Republic crashed out of the group stages of the 28th SEA Games after losing 1-0 to Indonesia, dashing Singapore’s hopes of a first gold medal at the biennial event.

The fact that most other Team Singapore athletes had outperformed to bring in a record haul of 84 gold, 73 silver and 102 bronze medals has put the spotlight on how far the footballers have fallen behind on the regional and international stage.

The facts speak for themselves.

In the past 10 years, Singapore’s standing in FIFA’s World Ranking of 209 countries has plunged 62 rungs to the current 154th spot.

The national team has also failed to achieve the goals outlined in the FAS’ five-year strategic plan from 2010 to 2015. For instance, the Lions did not breach the top 10 Asian ranking by 2015, and are now 27th out of 46 national sides in the region.

In the domestic league, S-League clubs have been playing to near empty stands.

While the LionsXII’s foray into the Malaysian Super League (MSL) has piqued interest among fans and brought back memories of Singapore’s past success in the Malaysia Cup, results on the field have been mixed.

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