Raddy plots to beat Singapore
He is the most successful coach in the history of the competition, after leading Singapore to three Asean titles, but Radojko Avramovic could now be the man who plays a vital role in eliminating the Lions from this year's tournament.
After Singapore's 2-1 defeat by Thailand in their opening Group B encounter of the AFF Suzuki Cup on Sunday, another loss tomorrow against Avramovic's Myanmar would mean a shock first-round exit for the defending champions and co-hosts of the tournament.
Even though he will always have a soft spot for Singapore, and even urged Singaporeans to fill the National Stadium and support the Lions tomorrow, Avramovic admitted he had no qualms about putting together a plan to beat his former side because he is working for a different football association now.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, the 64-year-old said: "I take every game seriously, and this is an important game for both teams because the losers could be knocked out.
"Singapore were unlucky to lose (against Thailand), but it happened because they didn't use their chances and got punished. They deserved at least a draw, but that's football."
Serb Avramovic watched the game after Myanmar's 0-0 result with Malaysia in the other Group B match, played at Jalan Besar Stadium.
These days, the Singapore national team are guided by German coach Bernd Stange, who took over the reins five months after Avramovic left. He served as Lions coach for nearly 10 years, the longest in the history of the Football Association of Singapore.
While he declined to elaborate, Avramovic did indicate he would use all of his intimate knowledge of the Lions, many of whom he blooded and developed, to create an upset.
"Singapore are favourites," he said.
"They have 10 players, who were champions in 2012, and they have good players and the home crowd. But each game is different and that's the beauty of football."
Frequently communicating with his players with the help of a translator as Avramovic speaks no Burmese and his players have a poor command of English, the Serb admitted some of his instructions can get lost in translation, although that has not stopped him from delivering silverware in terms of the Peace Cup in September.
For this Suzuki Cup assignment, however, Avramovic will first have to coax some goals from his players, who failed to score against the Tigers after Malaysia midfielder Gary Robbat was sent off after collecting two yellow cards.
During the Suzuki Cup qualifiers, Myanmar also failed to score against Timor Leste.
Avramovic said: "Generally, we have no problems scoring.
"Before the Malaysia game, I would have been happy with a draw. But considering how the game went, I was not satisfied with our attacking aspect.
"We should have been more efficient to score at least one goal, regardless of whether it would have been enough to win the match."
He will hope that his 21-year-old striker Kyaw Ko Ko, who often had to make lonely forays up front against Malaysia, will be able to put his chances away.
Said Kyaw: "Singapore have a well-organised defence which makes them hard to penetrate.
"I'm a bit low on confidence now because we should have beaten Malaysia.
"But that makes me even more motivated to do well against Singapore. Hopefully, I can help our team get a good result on Wednesday."