Coaching clear-out

Coaching clear-out
PHOTO: ST

The furore over the SEA Games football competition failure is still fresh but already, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) will have to deal with new challenges.

After Courts Young Lions and national Under-23 coach Aide Iskandar quit in the immediate aftermath of the host nation's Games elimination, a whirlwind of changes is set to sweep through the association's senior coaching ranks in the coming weeks.

National teams head coach Bernd Stange's contract, which began in May 2013, is set to expire in September while his assistant Harald Irmscher will leave Singapore on Friday after his contract expired yesterday. FAS goalkeeping coach instructor John Burridge also tendered his resignation last month and is serving three months' notice.

There is also a question over Juergen Raab, who was originally roped in last October on a one-year contract as the SEA Games team's fitness coach. He has since taken on the role of preparing the Courts Young Lions, which formed the bulk of the national U-23 squad, for the resumption of the S-League season.

Last night at the Geylang Field where he oversaw team training, Raab told The Straits Times: "I have not had any discussion with FAS (about the extension of contract). At the moment, until September, I will take charge of the team and prepare them for the matches in the S-League starting with Hougang (United on July 20).

"Harald is going back to Germany and coach Bernd will have to do his duties as national coach and with this large group of players, it is impossible to handle them alone."

A FAS spokesman said: "The FAS had already begun the process of identifying the next Courts Young Lions head coach.

"An announcement on this will be made in due course.

"In the meantime, national team head coach Bernd Stange will oversee all Courts Young Lions training sessions and he will be assisted by coaches Juergen Raab and Harald Irmscher."

The Straits Times understands that Aide's former assistant S. Subramani was approached to take over the job but he rejected the offer. Subramani declined to comment but it is understood that the former national defender is displeased with the FAS technical setup.

The Courts Young Lions were put through their paces yesterday again without a goalkeeping coach, an issue that has persisted since last week, an indication of the dire situation the national teams' department is in.

The latest moves within the coaching set-up come on the back of a topsy-turvy two years with Stange at the helm overseeing the Republic's senior and age-group squads.

The Lions, then ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup champions, were embarrassed by a group-stage exit in November, the killer blow inflicted by Malaysia in a 3-1 home defeat. It sparked a six-month winless streak for the Lions, which also coincided with a five-month streak in which no age-group team managed a win.

The latest blow came last month when hosts Singapore crashed out in the group stage of the SEA Games' football tournament.

The problems were not just on the field. Off the field, allegations of coaches not getting along and undermining each other during the Games campaign persisted.

The gloom overshadowed the few bright sparks, namely a 2-1 win over Syria in the 2015 Asian Cup qualifiers. 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 also brought a rare bit of cheer.

The Lions visit Syria on Sept 3 before hosting Afghanistan and Cambodia on Oct 8 and 13 respectively. But with so many changes imminent, it is anyone's guess just who will still be around in a few months' time.

drajac@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 01, 2015.
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