Aleksandar Duric: Heed the warning bells, Singapore
Dear Singapore, do you hear that? The bells clattering loudly to warn of your impending demise as a powerhouse in Southeast Asia.
If you haven’t, then you should really sit up and take notice, because if you don’t, you are not going to create waves in the football scene around Southeast Asia any time soon.
This should have been fairly obvious on Thursday, when the fast-improving Myanmar gave a sneak preview of how they would shape up in the year-end AFF Suzuki Cup despite losing 2-1 to Singapore in an international friendly.
It was a poor performance by Singapore, no doubt, but Myanmar really gave the Lions a run for their money.
And then if we look just further away, everyone should know by now that Thailand are the undisputed top dogs in the region, as they made their way into the fourth and final qualifying round for the World Cup by finishing as group winners after holding Iraq to a 2-2 draw.
If things keep up the way they have been, we might just see a repeat of the 2015 Southeast Asian Games football final between Thailand and Myanmar, should the latter continue their remarkable improvement.
If there ever was a warning alarm for what is to come, surely these few events are it. Forget Asia, we might not even be able to compete amongst Southeast Asia itself.
The next game against Afghanistan is now deemed irrelevant after they were spanked 5-0 by Japan to send Singapore through to the third qualifying round for the Asian Cup.
But everything has to start from this game.
We have got exactly six months before the year-end Suzuki Cup starts, so that is where our focus has to be, because if we can’t even beat teams in Southeast Asia comfortably, then how are we going to compete in the final Asian Cup qualifying round, which begins in 2017?
The players in particular have got to show their worth. It’s no longer acceptable to just don the jersey and kiss the crest, they need to give 100 per cent and more every time they go on the pitch.
Show the next head coach of Singapore what you are truly capable of and that you deserve a spot in his squad.
Beating Afghanistan is imperative, as is putting in a dominant showing. Show the fans that the Lions are still a decent force to be reckoned with and that things can only get better henceforth.
We may have made a few mis-steps in the last few years, but it doesn’t mean we can’t build up a strong team again.