These three reports appeared in today’s edition of TODAY and The Straits Times. My thoughts and observations follow after that. By the way, there are some interesting points in the reports which I have also highlighted. Do look out for them.
Avramovic insists Lions were fine
(TODAY, 11 March 2010)
Singapore coach refutes press report, skipper Alam Shah says team were united
by Shamir Osman
SINGAPORE – National coach Radojko Avramovic was not a happy man yesterday, after news emerged of indiscipline and a lack of professionalism among some members of his squad, one week after Singapore’s bid to qualify for the 2011 Asian Cup Finals ended in defeat.
The Lions lost 2-1 to Jordan in Amman last Wednesday and The Straits Times cited incidents prior to the game and during half-time which could have contributed to the Lions’ downfall: Two players were seven minutes late for the team bus on matchday, while another player was allegedly spotted sneaking a smoke in the dressing room toilet at half-time.
Avramovic insisted there was not much more he could have asked of his charges in Amman.
“We didn’t achieve the result we wanted in Jordan, but I cannot complain about the effort and commitment the players showed in training. They were excellent,” said the 60-year-old Serb.
“The incident with the team bus, it was the one time that anyone was late for anything, and while smoking is not encouraged in the team, none of the officials spotted the (alleged) smoker,” he added.
Speaking to MediaCorp from Indonesia, Lions’ skipper Noh Alam Shah vouched for the discipline of his team in Amman.
“Throughout the five days of preparations, you can’t say that we showed any indiscipline. We slept early, followed the itinerary, and no one tried to go out at night,” he said.
“I even helped check. This was one of the away camps where we showed the most team unity. I can’t see much that we did wrong during the preparation.
“We lost the match because we couldn’t concentrate for 90 minutes on the pitch and were punished,” the 29-year-old added.
The two players who were late for the bus could now face repercussions, according to Avramovic.
“The players were late for the bus on match-day, and that was not the right time to take action. But I have put it in my report as per the normal procedure, and if the disciplinary committee see fit, they will take action,” he said.
MediaCorp understands that FAS are looking into the smoking allegations and, if found guilty, appropriate action will be taken against the errant player.
“They are professionals and adults, and they must realise that if they smoke their playing age and time will be shortened. We cannot be checking on them all the time,” insisted Avramovic.
The coach vowed he would put his foot down if he felt the unity of the team was being compromised, and according to Alam Shah, the Serb always means business.
“Raddy is capable of bringing Singapore forward, and if he feels that there are players who are below his expectations, they will have to take a reality check, because he will not hesitate to drop them, like he dropped me in 2003 for a while,” said the forward.
Said FAS general secretary Winston Lee: “We will learn from this. I know that Raddy and his team will do better the next time round.
“Raddy has proven his capabilities and I am confident he has the capacity to bring Singapore football to the next level.”
Baying for blood
(The Straits Times, 11 March 2010)
Football fans upset at reports of indiscipline in the Lions’ camp
By Wang Meng Meng
REVELATIONS about the Lions’ lapses in discipline has led to a public outcry, with Internet forums awash with postings from fans slamming the guilty players for their attitude on what would have been the biggest day for Singapore football in years.
Many had stayed up at midnight (Singapore time) last Thursday to watch the live telecast of the Asian Cup qualifier against Jordan. And the fact that two players were late for the team bus on match day and that there is a smoking culture within a minority in the team had the supporters blasting the errant players for their lack of professionalism.
A message left on The Straits Times’ website read: ‘The problem is that some of the professional players we have in the national team are anything but professional.
‘If they can oversleep and smoke, how can they be deemed fit to represent the country?’
Yesterday, national football coach Raddy Avramovic clarified some of the statements he had made.
The Serb confirmed that two players were late on match day and that they had kept their teammates waiting on the bus. He also reiterated that a report would be submitted to the Football Association of Singapore for disciplinary action.
Avramovic, while conceding that there is a smoking culture among a handful of players in the team, said he did not actually see any of his players sneak into the toilet to smoke during half-time.
On the Lions who smoke, he said: ‘In the national team, we are dealing with older players. They should be responsible people who should already know what is good or not good for them.
‘I used to say to the players to cut down on the number of cigarettes they smoke. But it is too late for them to stop as some had picked up the habit when they were young.
‘When you are a smoker, your playing time is shorter. That should be a good-enough reason for them to stop.’
He also clarified that the players did not complain about training or attending team meetings in Jordan although he did hear some grumbling during previous international get-togethers.
He said: ‘In Jordan, I never had any problems with the players when it came to training or meetings.
‘I was very happy with their attitude and I reported to FAS general secretary Winston Lee daily that the team worked hard and were looking good.
‘In previous centralised trainings, maybe some players complained about the training but it was never done directly to me.’
But in an interview published in The Straits Times yesterday, he had said: ‘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.’
What still irks him is how the two Lions were late for the bus on match day in Jordan for the crucial Asian Cup qualifier. Singapore eventually lost 1-2 and failed in their bid to qualify directly for the Asian Cup Finals for the first time.
They had overslept and were seven minutes late when the team bus was supposed to leave at 3.45pm sharp. The game was scheduled to kick off at 6pm in Amman’s King Abdullah International Stadium.
Avramovic said: ‘At least, if the two players had apologised to their teammates, it would have been perfect and the matter would be forgotten.
‘But they did not.’
The 60-year-old added: ‘I am a tolerant person but when I see that something is affecting the team, my tolerance will be gone and action needs to be taken.’
He warned that when he first took charge in 2003, he punished players whom he felt were affecting team spirit. And after the recent lapses in discipline, he will not hesitate to take strong action again.
I am in full control: Avramovic
(THE STRAITS TIMES, 11 March 2010)
By Wang Meng Meng
SINGAPORE football coach Raddy Avramovic yesterday dismissed talk that he has lost the plot, insisting that he is in full control of the Lions.
He also explained why he did not come down harder on the two players who overslept and were subsequently late in boarding the team bus that was to take them to the stadium for their Asian Cup qualifier against Jordan last Thursday (Singapore time).
‘There were about two hours to go before kick-off. There was simply no time to react and change my tactical plans,’ he said. ‘I did not react after the game because I didn’t want to point fingers and mention names. People may think I am trying to find scapegoats after we lost.’
But he gave the assurance that the duo would be dealt with. ‘I will submit a report on the incident and the disciplinary committee will take action,’ he said. ‘On my part, I can decide if I will call or don’t call them up for future international games.’
Avramovic said he has already decided the duo’s fate, but will not reveal it just yet. He then cited the example of a player who was caught by team manager Eugene Loo smoking at the table after breakfast in front of his teammates in 2006. The player, whom he declined to name, was subsequently fined.
That same year, another player spat in Avramovic’s direction after he was substituted during a game. He never summoned the player for national duty again.
On the issue of smoking among a handful of players, he said it would be wrong to axe them.
He said: ‘I am not selecting smokers and non-smokers when I check on a team. I select players based on how they play.
‘Applying pressure on the smokers will have no effect. It is better to have conversations with them and help them realise that smoking is bad for them.’ …..
What does one make of all of this, in the light of the report in yesterday’s Straits Times?
Well, it looks like following yesterday’s report, the Football Association of Singapore decided to do an excercise in damage control using Raddy Avramovic as their front man.
I get the sense that they have decided it is better not to wash any more dity linen in public because it means having to deal with the media extensively over the next few days. They had already thrown enough morsels to The Straits Times which then ran the exclusive report yesterday.
Now, they’ve probably decided to stop saying anything more in case one gets tangled up in words which can then be ‘exploited’.
Besides, disciplinary matters will always be dealt with internally, and as far as the FAS is concerned, that should be enough.
But there were still enough morsels in today’s reports for us to draw our own conclusions.
We know now that two of the guilty culprits were Baihakki Khaizan (why am I not surprised?) andMuhammd Ridhuan.
We now know too that they have not apologised to the team since. That is truly appalling. I think that lack of action on their part speaks volumes of either their lack of self-awareness and contrition or of the level of their arrogance.
I think Avramovic has noticed it too and it is clear from his quotes that he is very disappointed:
‘At least, if the two players had apologised to their teammates, it would have been perfect and the matter would be forgotten. ‘But they did not.’
‘I am a tolerant person but when I see that something is affecting the team, my tolerance will be gone and action needs to be taken.’
I am heartened by his words. It shows that he is the sort of person who speaks softly and carries a big stick. And I am hopeful that the big stick will come down hard on Baihakki and Ridhuan.
Finally, it doesn’t matter whether Avramovic denies whether he has seen the players smoking or whether he says that the players’ commitment to training was excellent and that he had no complaints.
Because remember once again – he is toting the FAS’ official public relations line.
However, we should do well to remember that The Straits Times also quoted an unidentified national senior player yesterday as saying that he was ‘disgusted at his teammates’ smoking habit and bad behaviour’.
So that is proof enough for me that there were instances of poor discipline during the away trip to Amman, Jordan, and that these instances are afecting team unity and spirit.
Yet I am sure that Avramovic probably couldn’t do much at the time because his squad was already depleted by injuries and because his main priority was th secure qualification for the Asian Cup. In other words, he had to field the best set of players at that point.
But now that the Lions are out of the Asian Cup, this may be the opportunity for Avramovic to make the neccessary sweeping changes. In other words, our Asian Cup exit could well be a blessing in disguise for Singapore football.
So thank you, Baihakki and Ridhuan. I hope you get what you thoroughly desrve, and I hope that in turn paves the way for a brighter future for Singapore football.
And, Raddy, while you are at it, please don’t forget to chop Precious Emuejeraye too, ok?
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan