Following last Friday's showing from LionsXII in their final group match against Johor FC in the Malaysia Cup, Football Association of Singapore President Zainudin Nordin issued a public apology on his FaceBook page.
In a match which both the LionsXII and Johor FC only needed a point from to qualify for the knock-out stages, fans were treated to an unsporting display of football after the hour mark.
Started by Johor FC and soon followed by the home side, both teams were contented to pass the ball amongst themselves and did little to mount attacks for the remaining half an hour.
In his apology, Zainudin stated that he felt the disappointment of the fans and that he was ‘very sorry’ they had to witness such a poor display in the second half.
Zainudin also stressed that ‘as we shoot for results, we must also always display professionalism and sportsmanship.’
Although a torrent of criticism was subsequently directed towards coach V. Sundramoorthy after the match, some fans, like Gareth Chan, felt that ultimately the result was the only thing that mattered.
“Results are ultimately what the fans should be seeking for, and the team has delivered it; not only did they qualify, but [they] emerged as group winners," he explained.
"I am sure the brand of football will definitely improve in the knock-out stages."
Other supporters, however, were not so forgiving.
Dominic Wong, who has been supporting the LionsXII since day one, believed that some fans might have been turned away despite the apology.
“Don't blame the fans if one day, nobody turns up at the stadium," said Wong.
"The apology is too late. The fans have trusted the team and yet we are being taken for granted. [But] I will still support the LionsXII, as long as they learn their mistake, and we get an apology."