FAS VP: 'Sundram deserves more time'

FAS VP: 'Sundram deserves more time'
Singapore football coach V Sundramoorthy is looking forward to a better Asian Cup qualifying campaign after the Suzuki Cup flop.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

The contract of V Sundramoorthy, appointed as the Lions' caretaker coach in May 2016, expires in just over three months.

The 51-year-old has received criticism for Singapore's poor results at last November's ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup, while others slammed Sundram for what they perceive to be negative football dished out by his team.

The Lions are four-time ASEAN champions, but were booted out in the group stages, managing just one point and one goal in three games.

But, Bernard Tan, vice-president of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) provisional council, believes Sundram is still the man to lead the Lions into the Asian Cup qualifying campaign.

Singapore kick off their Group E campaign away to Bahrain on March 28 - with Turkmenistan and Taiwan the other two teams in the group - and Tan said that Sundram's future should be settled before the team fly to the Bahraini capital of Manama.

Speaking to The New Paper in his personal capacity, Tan said: "Every coach has his supporters and detractors. But, in my book, Sundram has a good head on his shoulders, and he should be given a shot to lead us into the Asian Cup. But, this is my view and the decision has to be taken by the FAS provisional council.

"We should make his status clear before the tournament starts."

An honest conversation with the former Singapore international convinced Tan that Sundram has what it takes.

He said: "I had a conversation with Sundram - and I don't think he'll mind if I share it - about the high-tempo style of football that I felt would raise our level of football.

"He told me: 'If you want that, you've got the wrong coach. I have to study the opponents and play with the players I have. I organise the team to optimise the strengths and minimise their weaknesses to win games. I will not be locked in to play a certain style.

"Sundram has a down-to-earth practical approach to the game. He has a view and he defended his view. And I respect him for that."

Tan is a proponent of the high-intensity, pass-and-move football that was the philosophy of Sundram's predecessor, Bernd Stange, and while he still believes that is the direction youth football must take, he conceded that perhaps Sundram's practical approach is not a bad one either.

He feels that Stange's experiment failed, because Singapore's players at club level do not play the "tiki-taka" football that he demanded at national team level.

He also pointed out that S.League club players play at a lower intensity than European sides, and hence were unable to properly execute a high-intensity game.

Apart from a 2-1 win over Syria in 2013 and a 0-0 away draw with Japan, Stange saw little success. His Lions were booted out in the group stages of the 2014 Suzuki Cup.

Stange left with a record of 15 wins, four draws, and 16 losses, with a majority of the wins coming against the likes of Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.

Tan stressed that there is no quick fix for the national coach situation - like several other issues in the sport.

He said: "Football is too complex a problem to solve with one thing. There is no silver bullet, no one lever you can pull that will change things - the new council needs solid ideas."

shamiro@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Feb 15, 2017.
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