Leaving with his head held high

Leaving with his head held high
Fans have largely understood V. Sundramoorthy's decision to prove himself abroad, though some have described his move to Negeri Sembilan as a betrayal.

SINGAPORE - Singapore an offer, some would say, too good to turn down.

He would be given a sizeable salary increase, generous perks and, more importantly, a football team to run as he saw fit.

Yet, tempting as the package was, V. Sundramoorthy turned his back on a move across the Causeway at the end of the Malaysian Super League (MSL) last season.

He had just led the LionsXII, a team made up mostly of Under-23 players, to second spot in the MSL and within one win from the Malaysia Cup final.

But he was far from satisfied.

He saw potential in a young, hungry group of fighters and felt he owed it to them to give it one more shot, after having come so close. Fast forward 12 months later and Sundram, 48, found himself in an almost identical situation but with one difference - he was a championship-winning coach with five offers on the table.

Leading the LionsXII to the MSL title in just the second year of Singapore's return to Malaysian football was a big reason why he decided, with a heavy heart, that it was time to seek a new challenge and accept an offer to coach Negeri Sembilan.

After putting his own ambitions on hold, this time he just could not say no again.

"I've always wanted to go abroad to test my coaching skills," Sundram told The Straits Times, speaking for the first time since he announced his LionsXII resignation on Monday.

"Negeri Sembilan offered me freedom to implement my football philosophy and decide on player signings.

"It may not be the J-League or A-League but I hope the fans can understand that I am flying Singapore's flag in Malaysia."

Local fans, who packed Jalan Besar Stadium almost every time Sundram led his young players out, have been largely understanding of his move.

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