This report appeared in today’s edition of The Straits Times.
Is it any wonder that the Lions lost?
(The Straits Times, 10 March 2010)
By Wang Meng Meng
ON THE day of what was arguably one of the most important matches in Singapore’s football history, two players overslept and were late boarding the team bus.
Also, at half-time, with Singapore trailing 0-1 to Jordan in the Asian Cup qualifying decider, a couple of players were smoking in the dressing room.
After a 1-2 defeat that bundled them out of the competition – the Lions needed only a draw against Jordan to secure passage to the finals of the tournament for the first time – some of the players’ attitude has been called into question. Their shocking behaviour was confirmed to The Straits Times by coach Raddy Avramovic, who will submit a report to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
Avramovic yesterday also lashed out at the poor attitude of some players during training sessions, saying they had complained about attending team meetings to watch video analysis of the opponents and participate in tactical discussions. These players also refused to take training seriously.
The defeat last Thursday (Singapore time) ended the country’s hopes of qualifying directly for the tournament for the first time. Singapore were in the finals just once when they were hosts in 1984 and were given direct entry to the tournament.
The 60-year-old Serbian tactician, who has been in charge of the Lions since 2003, declined to name and shame the culprits but said ‘these players know who they are’.
Said Avramovic: ‘Certain players have become too big for their boots. They come with an attitude that their place in the national team is reserved for them. During the match, some players gave just 50 per cent effort.’
FAS general secretary Winston Lee said: ‘We take a serious view of discipline in the national team.
‘Raddy will be submitting his report soon. And if any player is found guilty of breaching the team’s code of conduct, we will not hesitate to take appropriate action.’
Trouble began the day the Lions landed in Amman for five days of preparation for the match.
Said Avramovic: ‘Some players complained that the training sessions were too tough. They forgot that it was hard work that got them into the national team in the first place.’
It was not only the coach who was fuming, some fellow players slammed the poor attitude too. A senior national player, who did not want to be named, expressed disgust at his teammates’ smoking habit and bad behaviour.
He said: ‘It is up to the players to do what they like in their personal time, what frustrates me is how some never put in much effort on the field.’
Avramovic has pledged to take firm action against the slackers, saying: ‘The two players who overslept will be dealt with internally and fined.
‘They are not kids. Some are married with children. The backroom staff have tried educating them on the dangers of smoking and we cannot police them all the time.’
With no international fixtures until December’s Suzuki Cup, Asean’s regional championship, Avramovic is planning to take the squad on a European tour in August. Games against the national sides of Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania are on the cards.
The coach sees the tour as a good opportunity to ring in the changes, saying: ‘My principle is: Any player who disturbs the team spirit will not make this trip.
‘I cannot tolerate any player trying to destroy the team atmosphere.’
After I read the report I was speechless.And then I was saddened and bitterly disappointed.
But now I am angry. Furious.
My manners prevent me from spewing a torrent of abuse at the three footballers who acted like prima donnas in Jordan, who did not give their all to Singapore’s Asian Cup cause and who incurred the wrath of Raddy Avramovic.
The national coach is not naming any names now but I think we will have a good idea as to who the culprits are when Raddy unveils his squad for a training trip to Europe.
Look out for axed players below the age of 30 because it will be mighty suspicious that they are being dropped at a time when they are supposed to be at the prime of their careers.
I hear from my sources that a couple of them are based in Indonesia. I am trying to find out who they all are.
To the three cheaters:
YOU ARE ALL A BLOODY DISGRACE TO THE COUNTRY AND TO THE DIE-HARD FANS
WHO HAVE SUPPORTED THE LIONS THROUGH THICK AND THIN.
I can handle it if the Lions are outplayed by opponents because of the gulf in standards but I cannot stand it when it is because there are players in the team who opted not to give of their all.
SHAME ON YOU, AND MAY YOUR PLAYING CAREERS COME TO A PREMATURE END.
And to Raddy: you have my support. Please wield the axe mercilessly and chop these idiots from the team.
I can live with a weakened Lions team in the Suzuki Cup, and I can live with the idea of us not winning the tournament. Strong teams can always be rebuilt, given time and patience.
But I cannnot live with the idea of cheats in the team.
So please, Raddy, swing the axe and swing it brutally. Make them feel pain.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan