Football: Put Stange in the hot seat

Singapore coach Bernd Stange’s (left) performance, as well aas those of his staff, will be reviewed after the SEA Games, while Briton Brian Eastick is one of five candidates for the technical director post, with incumbent Slobodan Pavkovic about to leave.

If national coach Bernd Stange is staying put in Singapore for the next nine months, he should helm the South-east Asia (SEA) Games squad.

That is the view of Balestier Khalsa chairman and Football Association of Singapore (FAS) council member, S Thavaneson.

He said that the FAS' decision to review Stange's performance after the SEA Games is a good one, and added that the 66-year-old German should be judged as head coach of the Under-23 side during that time.

Stange took the Singapore head coach job in May last year on a two-year contract.

It is understood that he has been given a four-month extension so he could help mentor national Under-23 coach Aide Iskandar at June's SEA Games tournament on home soil.

Despite the Lions' early exit at last month's AFF Suzuki Cup, the FAS executive council yesterday decided against removing Stange and will assess his position again after the SEA Games.

"It would not serve a purpose to sack him now," Thavaneson told The New Paper yesterday. "He hasn't even been here two years, and I think it would be counter-productive.

"If his tenure as national team coach is to be reviewed after the SEA Games, he must be put in the hot seat and be made the head coach.

"Take responsibility of the squad, give him the sword, and he'll live or die by it.

"If he was an adviser, for example, how do you assess him?"

Courts Young Lions coach Aide has already been announced as the man in charge of the SEA Games squad, who have been given the target of reaching the final.

But Thavaneson said that tough decisions must be made for the benefit of local football.

"Are we here to make people happy, or do a job that's in the best interests of Singapore football?" he asked.

"Also, if the Young Lions are doing so poorly in the local league, and Stange has been a strong advocate for youth and fitness, he has to do something to help Aide and his team so they can compete better in the S.League."



Former national defender R Sasikumar said that Stange should take the opportunity over the next nine months to fulfil his job requirement of mentoring local coaches.

"It makes sense that Stange is given the task to mentor Aide for the SEA Games, because the two have worked together closely over the past year," said Sasi.

"But it shouldn't just be Aide, Stange should also create a mentoring programme for all coaches in the national youth set-up."

Sasi, 39, however, feels that the national team need a new head coach immediately after the SEA Games.

"Singapore football is going through a transition period, so this is a good opportunity for a local coach to come in and do the job without lofty expectations.

"We have the coaches, and they would also understand how to manage this transition period better than a foreign coach," he said.

One S.League coach, who has been part of the local football fraternity for two decades, said he was disappointed with the FAS' decision to keep Stange on board, even as mentor to Aide and the SEA Games team.

"Everything Stange can help Aide with, he has already imparted over the past year. If Aide is the (SEA Games) coach, he should be able to steer the ship by now," said the coach, who declined to be named.

"I don't understand how Stange will be assessed for his mentor role at the SEA Games.

"The FAS should by now be able to decide if he is the man for the long term or not. And, if not, this would be the best time to seek a new replacement, because there aren't too many important games for the Lions in the next few months.

"If they wait until September, the FAS will have to rush to find a new head coach, instead of starting a careful search now."

"(Let him) take responsibility of the squad, give him the sword, and he'll live or die by it. If he was an adviser, for example, how do you assess him?"

This article was first published on December 30, 2014.
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