Lions want Kadir as Sundram's assistant
Senior Lions Hariss and Baihakki back Sundram as national coach, but want Kadir on board as well
The Lions appear to have to come to an unguided consensus, that the national team will be able to function effectively under either coach - V Sundramoorthy or Fandi Ahmad.
The New Paper revealed yesterday that Sundram, coach of S.League giants Tampines Rovers, is the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) first choice for national coach and is on the brink of being offered a contract.
Both him and Fandi had been shortlisted to take over the position vacated by Bernd Stange last month.
While the move to hire a local was lauded, and Sundram saluted for his tactical nous, senior Lions believe that former LionsXII assistant coach Kadir Yahaya must also be brought on board to bring balance.
"Both Sundram and Fandi are fine choices. Most of us can work well with either of them, who have their own strengths," said Singapore midfield general and Johor Darul Ta'zim star Hariss Harun.
"We don't know for sure who's going to get the job, but if we're talking about Sundram, he's tactically very astute and sets the team up very well.
"He studies the opposition very accurately and really gives us that tactical edge."
On Tuesday, Sundram masterminded Tampines' 1-0 win over Malaysian Super League giants Selangor at the National Stadium, a result that saw them become the first local side to advance to the Round of 16 of the AFC Cup - Asia's second-tier club competition - since 2012.
Sundram will be the first local coach of the Lions in 16 years, since Vincent Subramaniam held the reins in 1999 and 2000, and for Baihakki Khaizan, nothing matters more than showing commitment to what the national team stand for.
"This is the national team and whoever's the coach must give his best, in the same way that any player who's called up must give 100 per cent, it's that simple, we're playing for the flag on our chests," said the defender, who plies his trade in the Malaysian second tier with Johor Darul Ta'zim II.
"We can debate all day about who deserves the job, but to me both are equipped to handle it.
"I just hope that whoever gets the job, he can convince Kadir to come on board - he's one guy who really feels for that flag on the chest.
"He's no-nonsense, doesn't have time for superstar attitudes and he brings balance to the team, and I believe he was one of the reasons behind the LionsXII's success."
Baihakki should know as he and Hariss were key figures of the disbanded LionsXII in 2012 and 2013.
TWO TO TANGO
Kadir was the assistant coach to Sundram during the LionsXII's inaugural season in 2012, when they finished second in the Malaysian Super League and reached the Malaysia Cup semi-finals.
While Kadir could not be contacted yesterday, Hariss agreed with Baihakki.
"There's no doubt at all, Bai is right. Kadir works for the best of the team, keeps all of us moving forward and he picks no sides - if he has something to say, he will say it in your face," said the 25-year-old.
"As Sundram's assistant (in the LionsXII), he was always there for the players, rallying us... he was always there to motivate the team.
"He has everyone's respect, and is especially astute at guiding the younger players."
Stange was credited with injecting young blood into the national team, giving debuts to a host of players including Adam Swandi, Amirul Adli and Sahil Suhaimi, but some of them have come under fire for not pulling their weight when it came to crunch time.
With South-east Asia's biggest football tournament, the AFF Suzuki Cup, just six months away, there will be added pressure on the man who lands the job.
"To me, it is obvious that these months leading up to the Suzuki Cup are like a trial period for whoever is in charge of the team.
"He must show something so the people in power start to believe in local coaches again," said Baihakki.
"We have over 20 coaches with the AFC Pro Diploma and I'm sure every one of them definitely dreams of being national coach.
"The success of this coach will keep the door open for the others in the future."
"As Sundram’s assistant (in the LionsXII), he was always there for the players, rallying us... he was always there to motivate the team."
— National midfielder Hariss Harun on Kadir Yahaya’s influence