Well this year the lead up to our possible participation in this tournament has been very quiet. Nevertheless, our friend PoHui at the Bolasepako blog, and a recent comment by a reader known as 'Happy' have shown us that the draw has been made, and yes, we are in it once again.
Our first round opponent for this season is Albirex Niigata - no, not the J-League outfit, but rather one its Singapore based feeder team. Typically they've been a midtable finisher, and only one occasion have they progressed further than the quarter finals in this tournament. Still, it'll be a test for the lads again who must travel over there to the heat and humidity from the early hit of winter weather we've had this year.
Defending champions Bangkok Glass are not returning to defend their title - another Thai side, Pattaya United, has been invited however. The Young Lions, a sort of Singaporean youth development side that plays in the S-League, have opted out of the tournament due to conflicts in the schedule in the lead up to the SEA Games.
Their Malaysian counterparts, the Young Tigers, have taken their place it seems. In total there are five foreign sides (not including the foreign teams who play in the S-League), with Phnom Penh Crown also taking another stab at the tournament and Burmese side Okkthar United also playing. The draw does seem suspiciously slanted towards ensuring that a local team at least makes it to the final.
Still, that's not for us to worry about so much, as getting past the first round is the main thing. Our participation in this tournament however does bring up the matter of mid-season transfers. There've been rumours circulating that South's about to splash the cash around when the transfer window opens, with several VPL big names being linked to us.
If true, it is a chickening out of giving youth players a go? Probably. Wouldn't be the first team to have ever done that, but every time it does happen it just makes the youth development/new direction line seem hollow. Desperate attempt by Eddie (or by the people who hired Eddie, or the alleged real coach Joe Montemurro. Who is the actual coach?) to dig themselves out of a mid-season hole? Or could it be blended in with going for reinforcements just as this cup came along?
What do I know anyway? The first round kicks off in the week of June 6th. The date we play though is not confirmed at the time of print, as Singaporean football tends to have a game a day throughout the week.