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By ESPN Staff
Nov 10, 2006

Sporting Afrique on verge of quitting S-League

SINGAPORE, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Singapore soccer club Sporting Afrique's players are slowly disbanding and the club is on the verge of quitting the city-state's professional S-League after just one season.

The bulk of Sporting's players have already begun returning home to their African countries, chairman Collin Chee said on Friday, and manager R. Balasubramaniam has been advised to look for a new job.

Chee will decide on the format of his club in the next two weeks, depending on how much sponsorship he is able to raise.

It seems unlikely Sporting will be able to continue in its current format, using only players from African nations.

One option for Chee is to replace Sporting Afrique with a new team of soccer players from South Korea. He has also received two other offers from clubs in Morocco and Tunisia, respectively.

'Both these clubs want to send their developmental teams here, almost like the Albirex Niigata model,' said the 39-year-old. The S-League's Albirex is a feeder team for Japan's J-League side of the same name.

'I have not decided yet what exactly our model will be for next season. I will discuss my options with the S-League before we make any decision.'

Sporting Afrique is made up of players from four different African nations -- Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana. The team finished ninth in the 11-team S-League this season.

'The first year was very tough for us but we came in with our eyes open,' Chee told Singapore's Today newspaper.

'We did not get into the top three as we had targeted after pumping in almost S$300,000 ($192,800) towards our operations.

'We are determined to stay in the S-League but we will need to find another business model which will be more suited.'

Chee said 16 players will return home over the next few weeks, while the remaining nine will attend trials with other S-League clubs, or head off for trials with sides in Indonesia.