SINGAPORE v OMAN (Wednesday, 7.30pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)
SINGAPORE - He was sacked by the Oman Football Association after less than three months in charge of its national team.
Twelve years on, German Bernd Stange will face his old team at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday in the opposing dugout, wearing Singapore's colours.
But payback is not on the 65-year-old's mind ahead of the Asian Cup Group A qualifier, and the former Belarus coach insists that he is "so relaxed and quiet".
Ahead of the team's training session at Jalan Besar on Sunday evening, Stange said: "(My coaching days in Oman) was years ago and there are no officials or players from my time in the delegation here when I checked the list."
"For me personally, it's a match like many others; there have been many matches in my career that were door- die but this match is hopefully one step in the right direction for Singapore football," added the German, who was asked to leave soon after Oman's 5-0 drubbing by Uzbekistan in a 2002 World Cup Qualifier on Sept 8, 2001.
He was in charge for just two other games - a goalless away draw with Qatar and a 2-0 home loss to China.
"We are not so interested in Oman, we just want to follow our way... and this match is much more important to the players because we want to keep our chances of qualifying for the Asian Cup alive," said Stange.
Except for striker Indra Sahdan - who was nursing a minor knee injury - the rest of the national squad were pushed by Stange in the hour-long session yesterday evening.
The training centred on a Probablesversus- Possibles match, with the German and national team trainer Harald Irmscher cajoling Shahril Ishak and Co to pass faster, run harder and to find "that killer pass".
While the coach proclaims his optimism in the Lions, ranked 155th in the world and 28th in Asia, Stange is under no illusions of the task on Wednesday. Oman are ranked 95th in the world and eighth in Asia, above the likes of China (95th and ninth) and Iraq (104th and 10th).
He said: "Oman are a better team. We scored one goal and received 16 in our last five matches against them and lost all these games.
"There was not one match where we had a chance, so we need to have a plan and the players must be aware of all the possibilities because we wouldn't know if they would sit back, as they did against Jordan (in June), or they would think we are weak and attack us from the start.
"I've been here for a very short time - the training days I've had so far are less than two weeks and you cannot make a national team in two weeks.
"You make a national team in one or two years, but it would be very helpful for us if my team deliver a good performance, better than (the previous times we played Oman), when we couldn't achieve anything."
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