Should Lions coaching job go to a S’porean?

Sundram is one of the candidates to take the Singapore job. (FAS)Sundram is one of the candidates to take the Singapore job. (FAS)

COMMENT

It's now clear that national team coach Raddy Avramovic is set to leave after December's AFF Suzuki Cup, regardless of the Lions' performance in the competition.

This comes as no major surprise.

Despite earlier successes in the AFF championships, the national team had suffered a terrible run of form in the past year or so, recording only a single victory in the whole of 2012 to date.

The multi-million dollar question now is of course, who the FAS will choose to replace the Serb.

Let's explore the few possible names that will be in the proverbial hat.

Richard Bok

The current SAFFC honcho is one of the most, if not the most successful coach in domestic football. His honour roll includes four successive S-League titles with the Warriors and two Singapore Cups.

Beyond the S-League, he led SAFFC to two AFC Champions League Group Stage appearances, a feat that was never previously achieved (nor replicated thus far). In the 2010, his SAFFC side even managed to register four points from six matches, a sterling performance considering they were up against the big boys from Japan, South Korea and China.

Timing wise, Bok is in a perfect situation, having confirmed he will be leaving the Warriors  at the end of this domestic season.

But Bok's lack of experience managing an international side counts against him.

The skill set possessed by Bok as a successful club manager may not necessarily translate to the international scene.

Fandi Ahmad

Fandi is often nicknamed "Singapore's favourite football son" and his stature as a former Lion and Malaysia Cup hero ensures he will always have a special place in many Singaporean hearts.

On paper, Fandi will be a good choice for FAS. He is immensely popular with the fans, well-respected by the players and is highly qualified for the role (he holds a professional AFC coaching diploma).

However, his other commitments may be possible stumbling blocks to his appointment. He is currently in the middle of a two-year contract with Johor FA and also is heavily involved in projects like the Fandi Ahmad Academy.

Furthermore, Fandi had previously turned down the opportunity to coach LionsXII, making it more difficult for FAS to make the approach again.

V Sundramoorthy

Like Fandi, Sundram will be a very popular choice to be the next national team coach.

As a player, he  served the national team with distinction. As a coach, he has experience in the S-League with Jurong FC and the Young Lions, as well as in the Malaysia Super League with LionsXII this year.

The Malaysian domestic campaign is still underway, but Sundram has already won a lot of praise for his work to date. He has been lauded for his role in nurturing young national players like Irwan Shah, Sufian Anuar, Safirul Sulaiman and Yasir Hanapi.

If the LionsXII is to continue its participation in the Malaysian domestic competition under the current framework, we can expect this team to be a significant contributor of players to the national team for years to come.

Sundram's involvement in the set-up of LionsXII should put him in pole position with the FAS.

Working against Sundram is of course, the lack of experience at international level.

The Foreign Legion

If the FAS decides to go foreign again for the next national team coach, they will naturally have a huge pool of possible candidates to choose from.

Names like ex-Home United coach Steve Darby, current Terengganu coach Peter Butler and current Sarawak coach Robert Alberts may all be considered by FAS.

The trio are knowledgeable about football in this region and have good reputation as coaches in this part of the world.

If the FAS ever decides to splurge to bring in a big-name coach, the possible list of candidate will even longer and harder to predict at this early stage.

Verdict

Public sentiment also needs to be considered in this aspect. A lot of questions have been previously raised in the media about Raddy's bumper pay cheque, reportedly upwards of S$20,000 a month, especially when benchmarked against the team's recent lack of success.

Unless FAS can lure a manager who is marquee enough to awe local fans, I personally would like to see the job go to a local.

Sundram is my first-choice.  The 47-year-old has been a loyal servant to the association and should be duly rewarded.

After time with Young Lions and LionsXII,  taking over the reins of the senior side is a very natural progression. His knowledge with all the players coming through the youth set-ups will aid the development of our national team.

Even though Sundram may not be the most qualified for the role, fans that have turned up regularly to support the S-League and LionsXII will have little to complain should he be appointed.

Fantasy Football