Ok, truth be told I haven’t been watching as much South East Asian football over the last few months. In fact ever since I reduced my commute from waking up and going downstairs to work to waking up and walking from one end of my bedroom to the other my eye has totally gone off the tropical football that was so much a part of my life for a decade and a half.
Today however with a minimal workload in what passes for my day job I actually found myself on the sofa at the same time as a game from Singapore and with it being a juicy clash between Lion City Sailors and Tampines I had no excuses not to tune in.
LCS started the day five points and a game in hand on the leaders and reigning champions Albirex Niigata and if they were to stay close to the Japanese backed side in the final few games they needed a good result against the Stags or we could see a foreign team winning the title for the seventh straight season.
The Stags themselves started the day in fourth place but out of the running for anything beyond a respectable finish – in recent weeks the wheels have well and truly fallen off their season.
They collapsed today against LCS in a second half horror show that saw them ship goals almost every time the newly minted Sailors surged forward but the 6-1 reverse is only the latest in a string of heavy losses that must be having the east coast side tearing their hair out. Last week they lost 7-3 against Hougang United, last month they lost 5-2 against Balestier Khalsa. In their 19 league games they have let in a cool 50 goals!
And let’s not even look at their AFC Champions League campaign where their six group stage games saw them let in 27 goals and score just one.
A season that started with such promise for the Stags isn’t in danger of disintegrating. It imploded weeks ago and till now the vastly experienced squad seem unable to stop the hemorrhaging.
We could of course be praising Lion City Sailors for their exhilarating second half performance, with top scorer Stipe Plazibat missing, but with the Stags defence offering up so little resistance questions need to be asked of Tampines, the most successful Singaporean football club of the modern era.
Five times champions, eight times runners up, Tampines were once the nearest thing Singapore had to a glamour club but that mantel has been snatched from them by LCS while Hougang United are now making an impact of their own domestically.
They are guaranteed fourth place but they can still play an important role in the destination of the 2021 Premier League. Next up they face Albirex Niigata and should they win that game Singapore football will offer up a deep sigh of relief but on today’s showing you sense Albirex won’t be fretting that much.