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Nearly a decade after Goal 2010, the ambitious plan to qualify Singapore's national football team for the Fifa World Cup, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) is reviving its hopes of competing in the world's biggest football tournament in 2034. Speaking exclusively to The Straits Times on Saturday, FAS vice-president Edwin Tong said that it was a "realistic" goal for the Lions to achieve in 15 years' time. "We've always wanted to be somewhere on the world stage, so we need to start," said Mr Tong, the Senior Minister of State for Health and Law. "2034 is 15 years away...so you're looking at boys today who are maybe eight, nine to 14, 15 and if you can cultivate the programme that has that endgame in mind, it will do us a lot of good." The FAS' goal for the Lions to play in the 2034 World Cup will inevitably draw comparisons with Goal 2010, which flopped over a decade after it was first mooted in 1998. Sceptics will also point to Singapore football's slump in recent years, which saw the Lions' Fifa ranking dipping to an all-time low of 173 in October 2017 after a winless run of over 11 months. Singapore are currently ranked 162nd. But Mr Tong remains unfazed, saying: "If we're worried about trying to set up a goal and failing, we'll never get there. So we have to be realistic about our prospects; we're not aiming for the next 10 years, but set ourselves a 15-year horizon." He also pointed to the expanded 48-team format for the 2026 World Cup and beyond, which will see the number of Asian places increased by the current 41/2 to eight. He added: "There are a bit more opportunities...The obvious powerhouses, Korea, Japan, Australia, maybe some of the Middle Eastern countries, Saudi Arabia and Iran, the next tier you have Uzbekistan, Central Asians, and of course South-east Asians." "We can look at that as a goal. So it's not unrealistic, but it's also not easy," added Mr Tong, who was speaking at the unveiling of Singapore's first "Friendly Street" at Jalan Bintang Tiga by the Singapore Kindness Movement. Goal 2034 would be used to "focus and shape everything" that the FAS and its stakeholders do and he stressed that grassroots football, youth development, infrastructure and schools would be key to achieving success in 15 years' time. The FAS is currently engaging its stakeholders and refining its proposal, he added. In November 2017, the FAS unveiled its three-point plan for youth development aimed at widening the base of players, improving the quality of coaches and increasing opportunities for youth to play football. The national sports association said then that it hoped to reap the benefits in five to 10 years' time and that the ultimate aim was to develop talented young players to compete in a professional league and eventually the national team. However, Mr Tong said on Saturday that this was "not enough". He added: "We need to have key pillars, we start with grassroots and schools, we must align the way in which kids play football in schools and then we must have the support of facilities for training and matches. "Inevitably we have to work out what to do with National Service (NS), how we can align NS, which is important, with the needs of football." He suggested a "relook" into former club models such as the Singapore Armed Forces Sports Associations (Safsa) and Home United, which allowed full-time National Servicemen to train and play competitive matches. While qualifying Singapore for the 2034 World Cup may seem like a lofty goal, Mr Tong said it would "mean a lot to Singaporeans and sports fans" to see the Lions on the world's biggest football stage. He added: "It will give the country a lift and it is a goal that we want to be realistic about. It's not easy, but if you don't try, you'll never get anywhere. So we set ourselves a target, we try to lift everyone and push everyone behind it."
What is your view? After the other guy's (you know who) bold prediction failed miserably!
Were you trying to be funny on the expressway? Uncle, you're totally selfish by going 60-70km/h on the 1st lane of the PIE. The lorries on the side were the same speed as you, therefore i cannot overtake you on the left. I have to flash you many times and horn several times before you move. Then when you finally gave way to me, thanks for that... why you wanna "chase" after me? I have no time that is why i drive. If you have plenty of time, please take a bus or train. There are other road users in the hurry. Please be considerate in future. I give way to cars going faster than me even though I am above the speed limit. Thank you