Coaches may face greater scrutiny

Coaches may face greater scrutiny
Singapore's Under-23 footballers are shattered after losing to Indonesia 0-1 at the Jalan Besar Stadium, missing out on the SEA Games semi-finals for the first time as the host nation. But the FAS feels that the resources were sufficient and the team missed their targets largely owing to performance.

In the wake of the Young Lions' SEA Games football debacle last month, a committee could be set up to review team management and tactical decisions made by Singapore coaches at future competitions.

After the hosts' failure to reach the semi-finals of the biennial showpiece, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said in a statement last night that its duty is to "lift all those involved, learn from the events, and ensure that our national team returns stronger to make Singaporeans proud" in the future.

It acknowledged that the public "expected more" from a team which had a reported $3.5 million invested in it and embarked on training tours of Turkey and Japan, with a target of making the final.

The FAS statement added: "While more resources will always be preferred, FAS believes that what was offered was sufficient.

"The level of support was not a key issue. Rather, it was largely down to the application."

Its executive committee, led by FAS president Zainudin Nordin, had met on Tuesday to review the post-competition reports submitted by the technical team and key backroom staff at the SEA Games.

Looking ahead, the embattled association said "efforts will be made" to review "tactical decisions taken by coaching staff before and during the tournament" - meaning its coaches' tactics could be amended by other FAS officials.

It will also evaluate rest and training schedules in the build-up phase to ensure players are not fatigued, and review communication issues between management, technical and support staff.

"This is to ensure that issues that inevitably will crop up will be managed upfront," FAS noted.

The Young Lions were in disarray on and off the field, adopting ineffective tactics amid infighting among coaches as well as a divided dressing room.

Coach Aide Iskandar resigned immediately after their final group match, a 0-1 loss to Indonesia that gave his team the dubious honour of being the first Singapore outfit not to make the last four at a Games on home soil.

In an interview with The Straits Times, the former national captain cited problems in the FAS' national teams' department under head coach Bernd Stange, alluding to meddling with pre-tournament preparations, including allegedly forcing him to accept Juergen Raab as fitness coach.

The FAS statement added: "While we understand that emotions have run high, the FAS is hugely disappointed that key staff have taken to the press to engage in a public spat.

"This not only violates the spirit of teamwork and respect that the FAS seeks to actively promote within its organisation, but also explicitly violates the FAS Code of Conduct and Terms of Employment Contract."

While FAS offered no clarity over Stange's future, The Straits Times understands that the 67-year-old German will be released once his contract expires in September.

His two-year reign has seen more lows than highs, most notably a group-stage exit at the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup in November last year and a recent six-month winless streak. In 27 matches in charge of the Lions since taking over from Serb Raddy Avramovic in May 2013, his record stands at 12 wins, four draws and 11 defeats.

A surprising 0-0 draw away to Japan, with former Singapore stars Fandi Ahmad and V. Sundramoorthy assisting Stange in the World Cup qualifiers last month, brought rare cheer as the former national strikers were acknowledged by the Lions for orchestrating the superb rear-guard action.

Many fans and former internationals have called for Fandi or Sundram to be given a shot at the Lions job. The last local to hold the post on a permanent basis was Vincent Subramaniam, whose three-year tenure ended in 2001.

Sundram, whose Singapore Selection side impressed with a slick pass-and-move game during the Barclays Asia Trophy, said: "It's time to give a local a shot at the top job.

"Look at what Kiatisuk (Senamuang) has done for Thailand (by winning the AFF Suzuki Cup last year).

"It can happen in Singapore too, if someone gives us a chance."

This article was first published on July 30, 2015.
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