Sundram poached by Malaysian clubs

SINGAPORE - THE Dazzler will no longer be the coach of the LionsXII next season.

And it is likely that he will not be available to lead the Under-23 team at the upcoming Southeast Asia (SEA) Games in December.

The New Paper has learnt that as many as two Malaysian Super League (MSL) teams - Negeri Sembilan and Kelantan - have made concrete offers to LionsXII coach V Sundramoorthy.

And he is likely to join one of them as early as November, after the LionsXII's commitments in the Malaysia Cup.

Contacted last night, Sundram (above) declined comment.

Said a source: "Officials from clubs in Malaysia have flown down to meet Sundram.

They are prepared to more than double his salary and told him he will have free rein with their teams.

"Here, he has not even received a formal contract offer from the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).Why would he stay?"

TNP understands that the FAS met with Sundram last week to discuss his future, as his current contract is coming to an end.

It is not clear, however,whether a formal offer was made.

But the FAS is aware of clubs in Malaysia making offers to Sundram, who surprised everyone by leading his unheralded young team to the MSL title this year.

If Sundram does leave in November, it will be a double blow to the FAS as it has tasked the 47-year-old to lead the Under-23 side at the SEA Games in Myanmar.

Said the source: "The league season starts early (in January) and the Malaysian clubs want their coaches in to make important decisions like foreign signings and even the local players they want to get.

"They also need to start pre-season training and would want him there."

The club most favoured to land Sundram is Negeri, who after finishing last in the 12-team MSL, parted ways with Portuguese coach Divaldo Alves at the end of the league campaign.

Ridzuan Abu Shah will be their caretaker coach for the Malaysia Cup tournament this month, but Sundram is likely to take over next season.

Wanted man

TNP understands that FA Cup champions and last year's treble winners Kelantan, coached by Bojan Hodak, are also eager to procure Sundram's services.

Kelantan chairman Tan Sri Anuar Musa has made no secret of his admiration for Sundram. With rumours circulating that Hodak might move to coach Selangor next season, Anuar could well rope in the Dazzler as his replacement. Speaking to TNP last night, Anuar confirmed that his management team have been in touch with Sundram.

But he declined to say if any deal had been struck. "We are keeping our options open and looking at a number of coaches for next year," he said.

"There is no doubt that Sundram is a good coach, but I will need to hear his plans for the team first.

"I have yet to meet Sundram one-on-one, and I will do so as soon as I find the time."

Sundram, who spent a season as a player with Kelantan in 1994, began his coaching career at S-League club Jurong FC, where he led the club to two Singapore Cup finals (in 1999 and 2002).

He then had two stints at the Young Lions (2007- 2008, 2010) before joining the LionsXII in December 2011.

At the end of last season, when he led the LionsXII to second place in the MSL and the semi-finals of the Malaysia Cup, Perak and Terengganu made formal offers for Sundram's services. Both were turned down.

Perak were understood to have tabled an offer between US$12,000 ($14,500) and US$15,000 a month.

Former international R Sasikumar, who played under Sundram at Jurong, said he wasn't surprised that the Dazzler has decided to make the move up north.

He said: "A coach of his quality, plus the fact that he won the MSL without foreign imports, would signal many clubs to look at Sundram.

"He has the perfect credentials to lead a top Malaysian side.

"I think missing out on Sundram for the SEA Games is a bigger blow (than the MSL).

"I hope he finds a way to still lead the Under-23 team in December.

"He's got the opportunity to win a gold medal for the country, and I think he should.

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