Article Written by Kim Ng
When news of Home United’s privatisation broke, many reacted with anger at losing a familiar fixture in the S-League. Whereas everything else stayed the same, we saw it as a bunch of corporate types trying to take away what semblance of team pride that was left in our small league.
Sailors management said very little, if only to tell us to trust the process.
When the final whistle of Game 14 blew, we sighed in disappointment at a third place finish. We saw it as a misalignment of expectations – if this was the reward for selling our soul, was it all worth it?
Sailors management, again, said very little, if only telling us to continue believing.
That brings us to last night, and when we found out about the Sailors signing a marquee Brazilian maestro for a jaw-dropping SGD$3 million, the prevailing mood, not just with Sailors fans, but across the public was something a lot more optimistic.
There is now a sense of true hope floating in the air, and I can’t help but imagine that somewhere in Singapore, management is having a playful smirk on their faces right now.
The signing of Diego Lopes from Rio Ave F.C. sent a sizeable shockwave to the community, with the announcement post gaining much positive traction for the huge transfer fee. What constituted as the most expensive transfer deal in the SPL reads like a statement by the Sailors. This is only the beginning of the process, it seemed to say, and I’d like to think that I know what to expect next.
I believe that the league needed a wake-up call to rise from the doldrums of Singapore attention, and much like drop in the water, the ripple effect that it has to the rest of the teams will only be a good thing for all of us. It will only drive competitiveness to a higher level, and I expect teams to take up the call to be the best that they can be.
For the doubters, one only has to look at neighbouring JDT and the Malaysia Super League for a successful template, and whereas we might have doubted the commitment of management to get to this vision before – it is certainly a lot harder to ignore now. We’re slowly nudging ourselves to that direction, and it’s about time (in my opinion) before we become a true juggernaut of Asian football, and for the SPL to also rise in both quality and attention.
Looking more locally, we now own arguably the most talented group of foreigners in the league (Song, Stipe, Diego – I like the sound of a speedy SSD) along with cream of the crop national players – Hassan Sunny, Tajeli Salamat, Gabriel Quak, Adam Swandi. It’s hard to out-do last season’s record 5 players selected for SPL Team Of The Year, but I’ll be damned if we don’t have a good crack at it, along with silverware to boot.
In my opinion, being a fan of the Sailors doesn’t mean grumbling over the lost days of Home United and wearing red – there is a real process here that hasn’t ever been seen at this scale on our island home. Being a fan of the Sailors means buying into that process, and truly believing that Singapore football can be an exciting, sustainable and successful product.
The process has now well and truly begun, along with a new era of Singapore football. Let us trust it and enjoy the ride to come.
Featured Image Credits: Singapore Premier League
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