Bozenko in Fandi's sights
Fitness coach close to a return as Fandi's youth project picks up pace
A "Crazy Russian" is set for a return to Singapore football.
Football fitness coach Aleksandar Bozenko - who is actually a Serb - worked with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) from 2004 to 2015 and earned the nickname from the players he handled here.
The 64-year-old left Singapore last December to join Thai side Chonburi, who finished fifth in the recently concluded Thai Premier League season.
His contract expired earlier last month and The New Paper understands he is in talks to return to Singapore as part of a backroom team being put together by local football great Fandi Ahmad.
In October, the FAS announced Fandi would take up a role focusing on the development of players aged between 19 and 23.
The 54-year-old coach will form a group of around 30 players and groom them through regular training sessions, sparring matches and overseas trips.
This group will be made up of talent he spots around the country who are not part of the Under-21 Garena Young Lions team or the reserve teams of S.League clubs.
When contacted yesterday, Fandi declined to comment on Bozenko's link.
Bozenko worked closely with Fandi when the latter was assistant coach to Radojko Avramovic from 2004 and 2006, and when Fandi was at the helm of the now-defunct LionsXII team that took part in the Malaysian Super League in 2015.
I’ve worked with many fitness coaches over the years and he’s the best. We know he’s crazy in terms of training but, in the early years he was with us, whatever he made us do, he did as well.National goalkeeper Hassan sunny on Aleksandar Bozenko
National players TNP spoke to had only good things to say of Bozenko.
Said 32-year-old national shot-stopper Hassan Sunny, who plays in Thailand with Army United: "I've worked with many fitness coaches over the years and he's the best.
"We know he's crazy in terms of training but, in the early years he was with us, whatever he made us do, he did as well.
"Although his sessions are tough, we know we benefit from it. That's why till today, some of the boys - including me - do his exercises as part of our own warm-up or in the gym."
Added national vice-captain Hariss Harun, who stars across the Causeway for Johor Darul Ta'zim: "I came back stronger (from a knee ligament tear and then broken fibular) because of him. When we won the Suzuki Cup in 2004, 2007 and 2012, we were the fittest team in the competition each time.
"Off the field, he's also very likeable, so if he returns, I think it'll be a good thing for Singapore football."
Fandi has also roped in former teammate Nazri Nasir, who was most recently head coach of the national Under-16 team, to assist him.
Fandi is also understood to be keen on drafting in S Subramani, who was assistant to then coach Aide Iskandar for the South-east Asia (SEA) Games 2015 team.