Thursday, March 31, 2016


Short Sighted FAS Ignore Fandi Credentials

Bernd Stange stepping down as coach of the Singapore national hasn't come as a surprise to anyone. It was announced yonks ago. Putting aside the debate as to whether he was a success or not, and the evidence or popular opinion seem to be in the latter camp, why has no successor been identified or lined up by the apparatchiks at Jalan Besar?

The rest of 2016, from an international calendar viewpoint, is pretty quiet with  nothing on the horizon until the ASEAN Football federation Championships at the end of the year beyond a four team tournament with hosts Myanmar, Vietnam and Hong Kong in June. And after failing to get through to the next round of the World Cup Qualifiers the Lions go into hibernation until the 3rd round of Qualifying in March 2017; by my maths 12 months away.

A busy 12 months but a 12 month period that doesn't get going for nine months. Ample time surely for a new coach to get their feet under the desk and get around looking at players and getting an understanding of players' strengths and weaknesses should a foreign coach be appointed. But it seems FAS are not thinking along those lines. Indeed one story suggests during this lull the national team will need only a coach and not an assistant. Makes sense financially but then football and finance have long been unreliable bedfellows.

With Stange departing surely the opportunity was there for his assistant Fandi Ahmad to take the reins of the national team? There is surely no one better suited than Fandi given his knowledge of the local players and of course his recent experiences with LionsXII in Malaysia. Such a seamless transition would have meant a level of continuity at the top level going into the AFF Cup.

But it seems Fandi is stepping down next month, seven months before his contract is due to expire. Apparently the FAS are unhappy he turned down the opportunity to coach Young Lions. Is that really a surprise? Having worked with LionsXII and the national team why would any coach welcome the prospect of coaching an age group side in a league where expectations are low for results but sky high for developing players?

Yet again the FAS have been unable to plan for a succession in the national team. Perhaps they are waiting for 'super agent' Jorge Mendez to come up with a big name to bail them out? Allowing Fandi to slip through their fingers is careless but perhaps the one time striker knows something we don't. Gary Neville was recently sacked by Valencia, owned by a Singaporean businessman. Perhaps Fandi has eye on the hot seat in Spain?!

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