05 February 08 The Straits Times
I WOULD like to raise a few issues related to the Lions' third round Asian World Cup qualifying campaign which begins in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Feb 6.
Loca l media have been reporting that this is the first time Singapore has made it th is far in its quest to earn a World Cup finals spot.
This, however, does not paint the whol e picture. The Asian Football Confederation has never organised four rounds of q ualifying until now. So while it is true that the Lions have reached the third r ound for the first time, it is certainly not the first time that they have reached the penult imate round.
Media reports should be focusing on how close coach Raddy Avramo vic and his team are to the ultimate goal of the qualifying competition.
In t hat regard, the Choo Seng Quee-led Lions of 1977, with players like Quah Kim Song, Mohammed Noh, S. Rajagopal and Eric Paine, are the only Singapore team to have come to wi thin one victory of reaching the final qualifying round (they lost to Hong Kong 0-1 in a play-off after finishing second in their first round group). So for our current Lions to truly make Singapore football history, they would have to finish at lea st second in Group 4 in order to move on to the fourth and final round.
The 1 977 Lions team was coached by a Singaporean who did not have players recruited through a f oreign talent scheme. But the current team is coached by a foreigner who could f ield up to seven players who were born outside our native land. With that in min d, I would consider it a failure if Raddy's boys do not at least equal the showing of Choo' s Lions.
Finally, I will arrive in Singapore on Feb 6 to have a reunion dinne r with my family for the first time in five years, but will MediaCorp carry a 'l ive' telecast of the match against the Saudis, especially since it is such a crucial match for our national team?
I would like to point out that doing so will not interfer e with prime-time programming because the kick-off time is 1.15am (Feb 7) Singap ore time.
Michael Ang York Poon