SINGAPORE - ASEAN powerhouses in the 1960s and 1970s, Myanmar aim to rise again - they have turned to former Singapore coach Raddy Avramovic to be their new football guru.
On Wednesday, the Serb was unveiled by the Myanmar Football Federation (MFF) after signing a 11/2-year contract.
MFF media department director Soe Moe Kyaw told The Straits Times: "Raddy is a very experienced coach who knows ASEAN football very well.
"We believe he is the man who can take Myanmar football to a higher level.
"He said he needed a new challenge and Myanmar can provide him with that. He will coach the national and Under-23 teams. "He has already started work and is actively assessing players in the Myanmar National League."
Avramovic could not be reached for comment.
The 64-year-old's first assignment will be the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup, the tournament for the continent's emerging football nations.
It will be held in the Maldives in May. Myanmar have qualified along with countries like Afghanistan, Palestine, Laos and the Philippines.
But Avramovic's two main objectives - the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup in December (co-hosted by Singapore and Vietnam) and next year's SEA Games in Singapore in June - might pit him against his former employers.
Soe said: "He will try his best to achieve good results for Myanmar in the tournaments."
The Myanmar coaching post became vacant in December when South Korean Park Sung Wha was sacked after the team failed to reach the semi-finals of the SEA Games hosted by Myanmar.
Avramovic was among 20 applicants for the job.
Soe said: "We are very impressed that Raddy knows the Myanmar team very well. The MFF management also found him easy to work with.
"We will not overrule his coaching decisions.
"He has full control of the teams and the support of MFF."
Known to be a shrewd tactician, the former Notts County goalkeeper is noted for his meticulous planning and the way he uses set-pieces and counter-attacks to exploit the opponents' weaknesses.
He enjoyed a successful tenure as Singapore coach from 2003 to 2012, winning the AFF Cup, a biennial regional championship, three times (2004, 2007, 2012) to add to the Lions' other triumph in 1998.
Beyond the region, he guided the Lions to within a draw away from qualifying for the 2011 Asian Cup finals.
Singapore's previous appearance in the continental championship was in 1984, when they qualified automatically as hosts.
He also blooded many youngsters in the national team such as Shahril Ishak, Hariss Harun, Baihakki Khaizan, Safuwan Baharudin and Izwan Mahbud while integrating naturalised Singaporeans like Aleksandar Duric, Qiu Li and Fahrudin Mustafic into the squad.
At last year's inaugural AFF Awards, he was named Coach of the Year. In 2008, he won a similar accolade at the Singapore Sports Awards.
From 1965 to 1973, Myanmar dominated South-east Asian football, winning five consecutive SEA Games golds before going into hibernation.
Since the AFF Cup started in 1996, they have always fallen at the group stage apart from 2004, when they reached the semi-finals before losing 5-8 on aggregate to the Lions, then coached by Avramovic.
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