IN FOCUS: What does Singapore football need to raise its game?

One of the biggest stars in the LCS squad is Singapore skipper Hariss Harun.

Hariss is no stranger to ambitious projects, featured as a key player and captain for Malaysian side Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) for more than half a decade.

During his time at the club, JDT was transformed into a regional giant under the ownership of Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.

And there are parallels between both projects, observed Hariss.

“They had an interesting project, nobody knew at that time whether it would take off, what would happen but obviously we all know what JDT is today, and how fast that project moves on and it is still advancing and getting bigger at the same time , ”Said Hariss.

One of the things that the project addressed was his desire to help Singapore football, added the Lions captain.

“It’s something I felt was missing from our game; a club to take that lead to follow what is being done in modern day football, ”he said.

“Everybody is going to talk about the big bucks, but what do you do with the big bucks? That’s what matters and what counts. So this project kind of appealed to me, and actually reminded me of the time when I signed for JDT. “

Privatized clubs like LCS are a boost for local football, noted TFW’s Mr Nazhan.

“Privatized clubs have more resources and hence they are able to tap on these to improve the profile of their club. They have carried out their business with the sole focus of improving the team and you can see the results, ”he explained.

“If more clubs are able to draw on better investment, we will see better quality players come into the league and local players will also be better paid hence leading to a better, competitive league. This can only bode well for local football.”

FAS president Lim Kia Tong told CNA that LCS ‘privatization has led to other clubs raising their level of “aspiration and competition”.

“We hope that Sailors’ example will encourage other clubs to similarly be privatized, which we believe will further raise the standards of the league as Singapore football looks to grow to a higher level.”

A ‘WIN-WIN-WIN’

As Singapore football aims to take the next step forward, the SPL’s growth is seen as key. And those who spoke to CNA generally noted that the league has taken steps forward in recent times.

For one, there has been increased interest, noted Mr Nazhan.

“We do see more engagement from locals in terms of Singapore football. We have had people who have come to watch local football for the first time in recent years. What is important for us, is that we continue to push the personalities involved in local football, ”he said.

“I do think the league has improved in the years I’ve watched it. Incrementally there are gains, and I think it’s telling, with the big money signings that are coming in, the sort of names they are coming into the league, I do think that speaks volumes in itself, “said Mr Zia-ul Raushan who along with former Singapore footballer and pundit Rhysh Roshan Rai, runs local football podcast Rated RR.

“Obviously, you have your lesser teams who struggle to compete against the big boys, but I do feel there is a lot of improvement in style of play, in terms of levels of coaching.”

Foreign signings for this season include former Japanese international Lee Tadanari (Albirex), former Crystal Palace and Bolton midfielder Andre Moritz (Hougang), and Geylang’s Vincent Bezecourt, who previously turned out for New York Red Bulls.

“This year you can see very exciting signings in clubs. Moritz in Hougang, Lee Tadanari in Albirex. These are players that probably we have not seen previously, they are now joining the Singapore Premier League. And it’s so good, ”said Chew.

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