Raddy plotting Singapore's downfall against Myanmar

Raddy plotting Singapore's downfall against Myanmar
Coach Raddy Avramovic was named Coach of the Year at the inaugural Asean Football Federation (AFF) Awards on 3 April 2013.

For nine years, he distinguished himself as arguably the best football coach in South-east Asia, leading Singapore to three ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Cup titles in 2004, 2007 and 2012.

Next month, Raddy Avramovic will be back in Singapore, leading his new team Myanmar against his former employers in the tournament he knows so well.

The Serb guided Myanmar to the top of the AFF Cup qualifying group yesterday after defeating hosts Laos 2-1 in Vientiane. It capped an unbeaten campaign for the Burmese after three wins (beating Cambodia 1-0 and Brunei 3-1) and a draw (0-0 against Timor-Leste).

In what is set to be an emotional reunion on Nov 26, the 64-year-old will face many of his former players in Singapore colours. The other teams in Group B are Malaysia and Thailand.

Avramovic could not be reached for comment but the prospect of facing the wily tactician brings mixed feelings for Lions centre-back Baihakki Khaizan.

He said: "The Singapore players all know him too well.

"I am forever grateful to Raddy because he gave me my first (national) cap and I played almost 100 games under him. He really is like a father figure to many of us."

The Lions have not been in good form this year as the team continue to adapt to coach Bernd Stange's high-tempo passing game.

The senior national team were winless in two friendlies this month, losing 1-2 to Hong Kong and conceding a late equaliser to allow lowly Macau to draw 2-2.

Earlier this year, the side went down 3-1 to both Oman and Jordan in Asian Cup qualifiers.

Avramovic, known for exploiting opponents through set-pieces and counter-attacks, was instrumental in Singapore's success.

Appointed in 2003, he led the Lions to AFF Cup success a year later with a transfusion of young blood. Shahril Ishak, Khairul Amri and Baihakki were given their chances and they remain national team regulars to this day.

And Baihakki knows too well how his former coach is capable of plotting a result in Singapore, saying: "Raddy is very good at building teams using young blood.

"He is very detailed in his preparations and studies opponents very well.

"His return certainly made Group B a very open and interesting group.

"It is now up to us to make the most of our home advantage."

This article was first published on October 21, 2014.
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