Technical director identifies goalkeeping as a Singapore weakness

Michel Sablon shared with FourFourTwo his belief that one of Singapore's traditionally strongest department will be a weakness in the years to come...  

In the last decade, Singapore have produced a slew of outstanding goalkeepers.

David Lee, Lionel Lewis, Hassan Sunny and Izwan Mahbud are some of those who have donned the gloves for the nation with distinction.

But Football Association of Singapore technical director Michel Sablon believes that this department might not be so strong in future if changes are not made soon.

"When I first came here I analysed the game on the technical, physical and mental side," Sablon told FourFourTwo.

"One of the things we have in the National Football Academy (NFA) teams and the club teams are young goalkeepers who are still to improve.

Sablon believes Singapore lacks quality youth goalkeepers now

"The goalkeeper is the guy who can make a difference in the team as an individual and the role of the goalkeeper has completely changed.

"In general, we have good goalkeepers in the national team now but then you have to go further down and there's no follow-up."

Sablon was keen to reiterate that he did not mean to say Singapore's young goalkeepers lacked talent, but that they have to adapt to the changing nature of football.

Citing Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer as an example, Sablon asserted that the number of goalkeepers playing outside the box is becoming a common occurrence.

"Sometimes they (the young goalkeepers) are not good enough, but those who are good enough have to develop in a different way than before," Sablon said.

"Neuer plays between the 60m and the circle, so a lot of good goalkeepers play outside the box now.

"Before the goalkeeper is moving from one side to another, now he is much more of a football player – he is playing 80 per cent with his feet, instead of his hands – so the training sessions should be as close as possible to the game."

In order to maintain or even improve Singapore's goalkeeping standard, the Goalkeeper Academy Singapore was established by the Football Association of Singapore.

Sablon believes this will yield dividends over the next few years but he added that Singapore is not yet ready to have specific centralised training for other positions.

"That's the next step, we talked about it in the normal training programme of the NFA team and the national team," he said.

"But to have a collective training and system, we are not yet ready to have a specific training for strikers, midfielders or defenders.

"There's actually integration of this development of different parts of the team inside the training sessions.

"So if we are used to the system, used to the way of playing, then we can proceed to the next step."

Photos: FAS