Football Association of Singapore (FAS) President Zainudin Nordin has elevated the importance of LionsXII, proclaiming them to be a the 'epitome of the Singapore Spirit' and serving as a 'unifying symbol' to bridge Singaporeans of all backgrounds.
"It was indeed a sight to see the LionsXII give their best, and more, for each match, throughout the season," Zainudin told reporters at the official LionsXII 2014 press conference, where the new kits were unveiled along with the presentation of new coach Fandi Ahmad.
"Their show of consistency, commitment and desire is definitely the epitome of the Singapore Spirit. It is also heartening to note that the team is a unifying symbol for people from all walks of life, with their achievements and efforts hang an effect on Singaporeans of all backgrounds."
The LionsXII won the 2013 Malaysia Super League in their sophomore year in the competition and also managed to set a 20-match unbeaten home record that will stretch into the upcoming season. Intended to help grow Singapore football, the LionsXII initiative has proven to be relatively successful with strong attendances for home matches as well as in grooming younger players, with LionsXII players forming the backbone of the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup winning side. However, questions have also been raised in the past over the viability and competitiveness of the S.League in the shadow of the successful LionsXII franchise.
Quoting Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Lawrence Wong, who had held up sports as key to helping the various groups in Singapore bond, Zainudin added that the team's 'never-say-die attitude' captured the hearts of Singaporeans, and that the 'entire nation stood united' to cheer on the LionsXII when playing against Malaysian teams.