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Stange to stay on as Lions head coach

SINGAPORE — Bernd Stange will continue as head coach of the Singapore national football team, at least until his current contract expires next September.

Singapore coach Bernd Stange. TODAY FILE PHOTO

Singapore coach Bernd Stange. TODAY FILE PHOTO

SINGAPORE — Bernd Stange will continue as head coach of the Singapore national football team, at least until his current contract expires next September.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) Executive Committee (Exco) met yesterday and has endorsed Stange’s tenure, saying in a statement issued subsequently that the 66-year-old German’s performance will be reviewed again after June’s South-east Asian (SEA) Games here.

The three-hour Exco meeting chaired by FAS president Zainudin Nordin also reviewed post-ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup 2014 reports submitted by the technical team and backroom staff of the national team.

Entering last month’s tournament as defending champions, Singapore — who co-hosted the Suzuki Cup with Vietnam — failed to get past the group stage, finishing third in Group B behind eventual champions Thailand, and runners-up Malaysia.

The statement said that the FAS Exco shared its views and feedback with Stange and the national team management — a standard internal process aimed at further enhancing the team’s preparations for key competitions.

Stange, who is back in Germany on annual leave, received the feedback positively and was quoted in the statement as saying: “I have taken the feedback from the management and the team seriously and will adopt the key suggestions as we prepare for three assignments in the next six months, that is the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in July, the Under-23 team’s SEA Games competition in June and the Under-22’s participation in the AFC U-22 qualifiers next month.

“I will learn from, and rectify the mistakes we have made and aim to make our team stronger and better. I am fully focused on the next assignment, and I would like to thank the FAS, its management and staff, our teams and players, and our stakeholders including the fans and the media for their support.”

The FAS also said it will continue to work closely with the national team backroom staff, including coaches, to ensure they receive the support they need in their preparations for upcoming competitions.

Singapore’s Suzuki Cup failure, highlighted by a 3-1 defeat to arch-rivals Malaysia, had prompted fans and many in the football industry to call for Stange’s head, and some greeted yesterday’s announcement with surprise.

Tampines Rovers general manager Tay Peng Kee feels Stange should have resigned following the defeat to Malaysia.

“Stange must know that all coaches live by results. I have been a coach before and I know the situation. Singapore as the defending champions, playing at home and not making the last four … that is a failure,” said former national striker Tay, who led Tampines to two S-League titles.

“I believe the Exco have their own reasons for not wanting to terminate Stange’s contract. But, for me, I am surprised that Stange is still in the job.”

Former Singapore coach and technical director Seak Poh Leong believes the SEA Games will now be the measure of Stange as the national coach.

“All right, he still has his job after the failure at the Suzuki Cup, but the FAS must now tell him that he will be held responsible for Singapore’s fortunes at the SEA Games next year. Failure means the sack, he must know that,” said Seak.

Separately, the FAS Exco also announced it has shortlisted five candidates for the vacant technical director position, with the appointment to be announced in March.

The five were chosen from more than 60 applicants from the top 20 countries in the world football rankings, including England and Germany, with Zainudin saying he is pleased with the calibre of the applicants.

“We have met the shortlisted candidates who have shown us their plans for Singapore youth development that are aligned with our goals of producing competitive and winning teams at all age-group levels for key competitions such as Asian Cup, Asian Games, FIFA Asian World Cup Qualifiers,” he said.

The new appointee will replace Serb Slobodan Pavkovic, who left in September after a six-year stint.

Lions under Bernd Stange:

Period: May 2013 to date

Matches played: 20

Win: 8 wins; Draw: 2; Lost: 10

FIFA Ranking now: 157 (Highest 145 in Apr 2014; Lowest 165 in May 2013)

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