Tuesday, December 02, 2014


Stange Or Twist

Always happens. When a major team exits a major tournament there are the autopsies and the gut reaction is always to sack the coach.

It's the same in Singapore where everyone is queuing up to take pot shots at Bernd Stange following the Lions' exit from the ASEAN Football Federation Championship. That the exit was confirmed at the hands of bitter rivals Malaysia and come in such a dramatic fashion only increases the ire.

Football fans are born with  a sense of optimism. What else could drive fans of Cowdenbeath or Northampton Town to go week in, week out. However there is a fine line between optimism and entitlement and just because Singapore were the hosts and the holders doesn't mean all they have to do is turn up and they will win.

Stange has been in getting it from all sides in the wake of their 3-1 loss against Malaysia with players, fans and journos sticking the knife in but I can't help feeling a bit sorry for the fella.

Singapore are going through a renewal process and remember they have a tiny pool to draw on; there are not many Chinese names on the average SLeague team sheet and they are after all the majority in the country.

Since 2012 long serving players who have done their (adopted) country proud have fallen by the wayside as age has finally wearied them. A new generation is coming through and trying to make its own mark; players like Shafiq Ghani, Sahil Suhaimi and Faris Ramli.

Singaporeans like to talk about the Class of 94, overlooking the fact they have produced a few decent players since then. Unfortunately the generation of Baihakki, M Ridwan, Hassan Sunny et al never received the same kind of accolades; for some reason best known to the collective psyche, they fell short of the plinths created in lore for Fandi and the rest.

Pandering to the hysterical social media for Stange to be replaced won't do much for Singapore football. Raddy Avramovic is finished and over, much like the Class of 94 and while nostalgia is good and healthy in football there is also today to think about.

Stange needs to be given time to challenge for a place in the AFC Asian Cup. That has to be the next level for ambitious national sides in the region like Singapore and Thailand. Compared to that, the AFF Cup is a sideshow and if Stange is able to get the Lions into the frame for 2019 then the whiners will soon change their tune!

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