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Singapore withdraw from U23 AFF Cup

Singapore have withdrawn from the 2023 U23 AFF Cup to help the players recover mentally after a poor performance at the SEA Games 32 football tournament.

“The players are shell shocked,” Bernard Tan, acting president of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) told Mothership. “They need time to calm down and restore their confidence to participate again.”

Singapore exited the SEA Games bottom of group B with no wins, and experienced their heaviest defeat in a decade when they lost 7-0 to Malaysia in their last match.

They only scored two goals in the entire campaign, including an own goal from Vietnam.

Singapore (blue jersey) play Laos in the 0-0 draw in SEA Games 32 mens football. Photo by FAS
Singapore (blue jersey) play Laos in the 0-0 draw in SEA Games 32 mens football. Photo by FAS

Tan said the decision to withdraw from the AFF was made before the U23 AFF Cup draw, due to scheduling issues as the tournament was brought forward from November to August.

He added that putting the players into another tournament was a “foolish” thing to do after what they have been through.

The ASEAN Football Federation approved Singapore’s proposal to withdraw from the tournament before the group stage draw on May 29.

FAS confirmed that Singapore would still participate in the Asian Games 19 in China and the U23 Asian Cup qualifiers in September.

However, FAS’s decision to not attend the U23 AFF Cup faced criticism from Singaporean fans. They think that Singapore can send other U23 players or even the U20 team to the tournament to increase their experience.

Many fans want Tan to resign. The FAS had to establish a committee to review the performances of players at the Games.

In addition, Tan wants the domestic league to increase the number of matches for players and intends to restart the policy of naturalizing foreign players, which has helped Singapore win the AFF Cup four times in the past.

The 2023 U23 AFF Cup will take place in Thailand from August 17 to 26.

Vietnam, the defending champions, are placed in the relatively light group C with Philippines and Laos.

Group A has Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand, while group B has Timor-Leste, Malaysia and Indonesia. The three group winners and the best runner-up will advance to the semifinals.

Vietnam, the defending champions, are placed in the relatively light group C with Philippines and Laos.

Group A has Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand, while group B has Timor-Leste, Malaysia and Indonesia. The three group winners and the best runner-up will advance to the semifinals.

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