Singapore results in 2017 'are not ideal' - FAS boss Lim Kia Tong
Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Lim Kia Tong has pleaded for patience, seven months after taking over the sport's top job.
It has been an awful year for the sport in the Republic, with the national team failing to win a single game, while the domestic scene is dominated by Japanese developmental side Albirex Niigata (S).
"Results have not been ideal, and we acknowledge that. We know that work has to be done and we have installed a system that will help Singapore football in the future," Lim told The New Paper.
"We may not see results immediately... and we ask for your patience. We hope that our changes will be a change upward."
Lim presented Albirex with their 2017 S.League trophy after their 7-2 victory over Geylang International on Friday night. This Saturday, they will also try to defend their Singapore Cup title against Global-Cebu FC, of Philippines, in the final at Jalan Besar Stadium.
It will be the first all-foreign Singapore Cup final, with Albirex also winning the Singapore League Cup, and Charity Shield in 2017, to stay on track for a quadruple of trophies for a second consecutive year.
But Singapore football bosses hope that new measures for 2018, including the requirement that all S.League sides sign six under-23 players, will give the game a much-needed shot in the arm. At least three of the U23 squad members must start every S.League match.
"I am totally confident that the changes we are proposing now will result in a stronger football ecosystem and a stronger national team. We could see improvement within three years," FAS vice-president S. Thavaneson said.
"The S-League must always be seen as a means to an end, and that end is having a strong national team."
Among other measures, the FAS wants to increase the number of students playing the game from 3,000 today to 10,000 by 2022.
"There are just not enough students playing the game across all age levels," FAS deputy president Bernard Tan said at last Friday's 35th Annual FAS Congress.
According to The New Paper, only 74 of the 182 primary schools in Singapore offer football as a co-curricular activity, and only 84 of 154 secondary schools.
"We have to make a case for schools to choose football, to make it hard for schools to say 'no' to the support we offer," Tan said.
Kenneth Tan is a Singapore-based football writer on S.League and AFC Cup for ESPN FC and FourFourTwo. Twitter: @KennerveT